(Reuters) – The National Institutes of Health said on Friday it has started a clinical study to test a combination of Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug remdesivir and anti-inflammatory treatment baricitinib in COVID-19 patients.

The trial is currently enrolling adults hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States and is expected to study the treatment combination in more than 1,000 participants. (https://bit.ly/2YM0tfp)

Baricitinib, which is marketed under brand name Olumiant by Eli Lilly and Co, was being tested as a potential treatment for hospitalized patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

Interest in remdesivir has been high as there are no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, which has resulted in over 70,000 deaths in the country.

“We now have solid data showing that remdesivir diminishes to a modest degree the time to recovery for people hospitalized with COVID-19,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Fauci said this study will look at whether adding an anti-inflammatory agent to remdesivir has additional benefits, including reducing mortality.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of the drug to treat COVID-19 and said its benefits outweighed risks.

An earlier NIH trial showed COVID-19 patients who received remdesivir had a statistically significant shorter time to recovery compared to patients who received placebo.

(Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)