Most Americans had never heard of remdesivir—the experimental antiviral drug being tested to treat COVID-19—before Dr. Anthony Fauci announced on Wednesday that the drug offered “a clear-cut, significant, positive effect” reducing recovery time for those infected with the virus.
The most recent Economist/YouGov Poll, conducted before Fauci’s announcement, showed that a majority (59%) of Americans had heard “nothing at all” about the antiviral medication that has recently shown promise in preliminary trials. About two in five (41%) Americans had heard “a lot” or “a little” about remdesivir, which is created by an American biopharmaceutical company.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that COVID-19 patients who received remdesivir recovered faster than similar patients who received the placebo drug. Prior to the publicization of the initial NIH clinical trial results, just 18 percent of Americans considered remdesivir a potentially effective treatment for the coronavirus.
“Whenever you have clear-cut evidence that a drug works, you have an ethical obligation to immediately let the people who are in the placebo group know so that they can have access," Fauci said during the Oval Office meeting. "And all of the other trials that are taking place now have a new standard of care.”
Fauci is widely trusted by a majority of Americans for medical advice, according to the latest Economist/YouGov data. About three in five (59%) Americans say they trust him, including three-quarters of Democrats (77%) and about half (52%) of Republicans.