If remdesivir proves to be safe and effective against the coronavirus, Kalil said the trial will pivot to studying other drugs. The investigators would use remdesivir as the control, and see how well other drugs compare.

One treatment on deck is called baricitinib, an anti-inflammatory medication used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

“There is hope that this medication can bring down inflammation and help prevent the spread of the virus from one cell to another,” Kalil said.

A drug that can reduce inflammation may be key. The immune system naturally sends inflammatory chemicals to the site of an injury or infection in an attempt to fight it. But sometimes the immune system overreacts and fires off far too many, damaging otherwise healthy tissue.