Coronavirus: John Vipulis, recovered COVID-19 patient, talks about taking part in remdesivir trial

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- We're hearing from a man who participated in the clinical trial for remdesivir, an anti-viral drug developed by Gilead Sciences in Foster City.

Federal health officials are optimistic remdesivir can treat coronavirus.

John Vipulis said he was studying abroad in Spain when the pandemic hit. The 22-year-old developed symptoms shortly after returning home in March.

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He enrolled in the clinical trial after doctors confirmed he had COVID-19. Vipulis says he thinks it would've taken him longer to recover if he didn't take part in the clinical trial.

"I started to feel better by the 3rd or 4th day. There was only one night I had really bad symptoms after I started the trial. But, by day 5 I really felt like myself again besides the fatigue,"Vipulis said. "I am fairly confident that if I did not receive the clinical trial at the NIH that I would have had a much more difficult road to recovery."

It's been about three weeks since he was released from the hospital. Vipulis says he feels 100-percent back to normal.

Here's his full interview with ABC News:

I was studying abroad in Spain and once all the travel restrictions started happening I immediately flew home on March 13.

I immediately self-isolated from my family just to make sure that I didn't get anyone else sick, potentially, if I did have it. And then about a week after I got home, maybe March 20, I started developing symptoms.

The symptoms started out with a fever. I noticed a headache the first night and for about 3 to 4 days I had a 103 degree fever, pretty consistently. Then a cough started developing. The cough got worse and worse until I was hopitilized. I ended up getting treatment, the fever persisted as well and the body aches. It just really hurt to move.

My girlfriend actually was pushing me to go to the hospital. It got to the point where the cough was unmanageable. And I was there for 2 or 3 days and then I got transferred to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and that's where I started the clinical trial.

One I got to the NIH to start the trial. They kept giving me Tylenol and inhalers. The first full day I was there I started the 10 day remdesivir trial there.

I noticed a difference within 2 to 3 days. I started to feel better by the 3rd or 4th day. There was only one night I had really bad symptoms after I started the trial. But, by day 5 I really felt like myself again, besides the fatigue. The NIH kept me in the hospital for an extra 3 days so I could test 3 straight negatives.
I was diagnosed positive on March 22, I was sort of anticipating it being that I was abroad in Barcelona. Spain was hit hard before it became what it is now in the U.S. I anticipated that I had it. I kept social distancing from my parents. I was locked in my room before I developed symptoms.

When I got transferred from suburban to NIH when I was at my worst. I had such high fever that I sort of was hallucinating and not fully aware of my surroundings, and that was pretty scary. That was a daunting experience.

I was really relieved. Once i started feeling better, I was pretty happy. I don't know how to describe the feeling to be able to see my family again.

The second week of April I was able to get back home. It was interesting to miss a whole month of what was going on on the outside. I was in islation the whole time I was in the hospital.

I am fairly confident that if I did not receive the clinical trial at the NIH that I would have had a much more difficult road to recovery. I think that the nurses and doctors were tremendous in my recovery process.

I think Americans should know to keep social distancing and stay at home. This disease is serious. Staying inside and being as safe as possible and social distancing and making sure you're not in contant with as many people you can and washing your hands...that's all very important.

I'm feeling pretty much 100 percent normal. I'm able to work out like I want to. I'm feeling back to my old self in this new quarantine world that we live in.


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