A majority of a small group of patients showed improvements after being treated with an experimental coronavirus drug made by Gilead Sciences, bolstering hopes for finding a treatment for the disease, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Friday.The group of patients received the antiviral drug remdesivir as part of a “compassionate use” trial, not a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that would offer more definitive evidence. Also, the cohort of patients was small, only 53 patients in the United States and around the world. Those limiting factors prevent scientists from declaring that the drug works.Still, the improvements offered positive news about a drug seen by global health authorities as offering the best shot at becoming a treatment for the disease.Thirty-six patients out of 53 — or about two-thirds — showed improvement in oxygen support, trial authors said. Seventeen of 30 patients who were on ventilators were able to be taken off the life-support machines.“We cannot draw definitive conclusions from these data, but the observations from this group of hospitalized patients who received remdesivir are hopeful,” said Jonathan D. Grein, Hospital Epidemiology director at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and lead author of the journal

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