New Jersey Coronavirus Survivor Credits Recovery To Experimental Drug Remdesivir

Michael Wallace
April 30, 2020 - 5:39 pm

Sign up for WCBS 880's daily newsletter for the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic.

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A coronavirus survivor is crediting his recovery to the experimental drug remdesivir.

Steve Borace, the director of broadcast engineering for CBS, says he had a temperature over 104 degrees, could barely breathe and while in the ICU at a New Jersey hospital, where they prepared to put him on a ventilator.

Though he was not part of the "at-risk" population for the virus, he was sick for several days and eventually developed bilateral viral pneumonia.

Borace says he was just hours from being put on a ventilator when he was selected for the remdesivir trial – and his life was saved.

“They gave me the remdesivir that morning and then they came back in the afternoon, they took my blood gas again when they came back and told me, ‘We saw a slight uptick in your numbers, so we're gonna hold off on a ventilator for now,’” Borace explains. 

While still in the ICU, the doctors had him lay on his stomach overnight, and when they came back in the morning, his condition had drastically improved. 

“They said, ‘Out of 26 patients on the floor, you’re the only one who is not on a ventilator right now,’” he said. 

Slowly, Borace continued to improve and after one day on remdesivir, his oxygen requirements went down.

“They said, ‘Well you could go to a step-down unit now,’” Borace said. “And the doctor that had told me two days ago that I was gonna go on a ventilator, he came back and said ‘I’m absolutely amazed at what has occurred.’”

The husband and father of two boys said the doctors were shocked by his recovery and that many of them have never seen someone recover from the state he was in.

Though, he notes being in the hospital, and especially in the ICU, was extremely difficult on him and his family.

“I had my cell phone with me I was able to get to (his family) through FaceTime and I would text my wife, too. She went through hell too, because she was home with my two boys – you know, dealing with that whole situation and trying to go shopping for food and things like that under those conditions – and then also worried that I might not make it out,” Borace said.

Though, he says he stayed positive for his family’s sake and continued to tell them he would recover, even when he felt it difficult to believe himself. 

The drug remdesivir began clinical trials in February and has been administered to 1,063 hospitalized adults with COVID-19. Early results showed patients given the drug recovered 31% faster than those given a placebo.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who oversees the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has even praised the results as “good news.”

Remdesivir was initially developed to fight Ebola, but clinical trials in Africa proved disappointing and it was never approved for treatment.

The FDA is in talks with drug manufacturer Gilead to make remdesivir available to coronavirus patients “as quickly as possible, as appropriate.”

Stay informed, stay connected — follow WCBS 880 on Facebook and TwitterDownload the RADIO.COM app + favorite WCBS 880 for breaking news, traffic and weather alerts.