Nigerian doctor in U.S. Babafemi Taiwo is leading major study on antiviral drug Remdesivir appearing to treat COVID-19

Dr. Babafemi Taiwo is Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago. He is also Director, Clinical Core of the Third Coast Center for AIDS Research, and Leader of the Northwestern University Site of the NIAID-funded AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG). At Northwestern University, he leads clinical and translational HIV researchers from infectious diseases, hepatology, neurology, radiology, cardiology and nursing, and directs the development and implementation of NIH-sponsored interventional and observational HIV studies.  

He has received research grants (to Northwestern) from industry sponsors for investigator-initiated studies. Dr. Taiwo is the Director, Research in Africa, NU Center for Global Health. He has been involved in HIV treatment, research and training in Nigeria for two decades. His undergraduate education, and initial medical training took place at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan. He is Principal Investigator of the NIH D43 Multidisciplinary NeuroAIDS Training and Research Program in Nigeria. 

A bright doctor from the West African country of Nigeria Babafemi Taiwo is leading part of a major study on antiviral drug Remdesivir appearing to treat COVID-19, the potentially deadly respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, which has killed more than 200,000 people around the world.

CNN interviewed Dr. Taiwo, whose name suggests he is a twin from the southwestern part of Nigeria, to discuss the promising results.

Remdesivir, the antiviral drug made by Gilead Sciences, appears to help coronavirus patients recover more quickly than no treatment at all, but it does not significantly reduce death, according to preliminary data from the National Institutes of Health, per Axios.

Preliminary results of remdesivir show it can help hospitalized patients with COVID-19 recover faster.

“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a meeting between President Trump and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, NPR reported.

Dr. Fauci described the results as “highly significant”, hailing them as “quite good news.”

The study was sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which Fauci leads, and which is part of the National Institutes of Health, NPR added.

Fauci said it was the first “truly high-powered” randomized placebo controlled trial of remdesivir, noting that it involved more than a thousand hospitalized patients at sites in numerous countries. Another randomized controlled trial in China, with results that were also announced Wednesday, was far smaller, per NPR.

NPR added that “The NIH trial of the antiviral, which is made by Gilead Sciences, began on February 21. The preliminary study results are not yet published in a peer-reviewed trial but NIH released them after an analysis by the data safety monitoring board overseeing the trial. Fauci said the results were announced because of the ethical responsibility to allow the placebo group to access remdesivir, since there was now clear evidence that the drug works.”

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