The response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been hampered by lack of an effective severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antiviral therapy. Here we report the successful use of remdesivir in a patient with COVID-19 and the prototypic genetic antibody deficiency X-linked agammaglobulinaemia (XLA). Despite evidence of complement activation and a robust T cell response, the patient developed persistent SARS-CoV-2 pneumonitis, without progressing to multi-organ involvement. His unusual clinical course identifies a key role for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in both viral clearance and progression to severe disease. In the absence of these confounders, we took an experimental medicine approach to examine the in vivoutility of remdesivir. Over two independent courses of treatment, we observed a dramatic, temporally correlated clinical and virological response, leading to clinical resolution and viral clearance, with no evidence of acquired drug resistance. We therefore provide unambiguous evidence for the antiviral efficacy of remdesivir in vivo, and its potential benefit in selected patients.