Bay Area Women Severely Ill with COVID-19 Participates in Stanford-based Clinical Trial Assessing Remdesivir and Improves Within Days

Mar 23, 2020 | Coronavirus, COVID-19, Gilead, Remdesivir, Stanford Hospital, Stanford Medicine

Bay Area Women Severely Ill with COVID-19 Participates in Stanford-based Clinical Trial Assessing Remdesivir and Improves within Days

A Bay Area woman in her 60s and her husband contracted COVID-19 on a cruise ship headed to Egypt—they couldn’t complete their trip as their conditions worsened and they believed they might have the novel coronavirus. Upon returning to Palo Alto, CA on March 3, the woman was first tested for every other ailment and then finally by March 9th, Palo Alto Medical Foundation assessed her as positive for COVID-19 along with pneumonia. Her and her husband were placed in Stanford Hospital and several hours thereafter were able to receive more a comprehensive COVID-19 test from Stanford Health Care’s new FDA-approved test kit processed at the hospital laboratory. Although her husband’s conditioned fared better (and went to home quarantine), her condition worsened—and to a scary condition. She was isolated and alone. Her husband worked at Gilead Sciences and had heard of a small COVID-19 clinical trial at Stanford Hospital. She was accepted into the clinical trial for remdesivir and days later was doing better. This clinical trial possibility saved her life.

This scary story of a Palo Alto, CA resident was recently reported by a popular local news outlet called Palo Alto Online.  Palo Alto, literally in the heart of Silicon Valley, nearly lost a resident as the subject of this recent story fell extremely ill to COVID-19 and associated complications. TrialSite News breaks down some pertinent facts for all.

The Patient

Monica Yeung-Arima and her husband

Where did they contract the disease?

On a cruise ship headed toward various tourist sites in Egypt

Did they have trouble with COVID-19 testing?

Yes. They found it was difficult to get the test when they returned from their trip ill on March 3, 2020.

Did Monica have conditions that made the novel coronavirus riskier?

Yes. She had marginal asthma, which possibly could represent additional risk. As the CDC reports, people with asthma may be at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.  COVID-19 can affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs), cause an asthma attack, and possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease.

When she was finally admitted into Stanford Hospital, was the test fast?

Yes. She reported the turnaround time was impressive.

While in the hospital, did they isolate her and be very careful not to come near her?

Yes. Its amazed Ms. Yeung-Arima how isolated she was; the extent that the hospital staff went to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus. It became clear to her how dangerous and contagious this virus truly is.

What clinical trial was she accepted into?

We know from the Palo Alto Online article that it was a local Gilead/Remdesivir clinical trial and that she had a severe case of COVID-19. The only published study that matches that description is one that is sponsored by Gilead and conducted at several clinical investigational sites (in this case hospitals), including Stanford. In this study the sponsor and site sought to evaluate the efficacy of 2 remdesivir regimens with respect to the normalization of temperature and oxygen saturation through day 14 in participants with severe COVID-19.

What was the result of the clinical trial?

Three days into the trial, she already started feeling better. The experimental therapy Remdesivir clearly had an impact. She was released on Friday March 20. This clinical trial sponsored by Gilead may have saved her life.

What happened next?

She was sent home to self-quarantine with a list of items to monitor. For example, she had to use a finger oximeter to measure her blood oxygen level and check to make sure she remains at a minimum of 92% to 93%, reported Palo Alto Online. She was told she can’t have a fever or the implication is that she would have to go back into the health center.  She would remain on self-quarantine till Tuesday.

Who is overseeing Stanford’s impressive testing operation?

As recently written up by the Stanford Medicine News CenterBenjamin Pinsky, medical director of the Stanford Clinical Virology Laboratory is overseeing Stanford’s fast COVID-19 test.


Ms. Yeung-Arima commented to Palo Alto Online, “My lungs are not going to recover in one day,” she said. “I’m not recovered completely and I’m not supposed to go out, but in spirit, I’m fine,” but she had lost her appetite and it would be a process to heal—and possibly her lungs will have permanent damage.

  Gilead has since expanded the drug for emergency access


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