- Early data from clinical trials showed that the drug could shorten the recovery time of COVID-19 patients by four days
LONDON: Britain will provide the anti-viral drug remdesivir to certain COVID-19 patients that it is most likely to benefit as part of a collaboration with manufacturer Gilead Sciences, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
The department of health said early data from clinical trials around the world showed that the drug could shorten the recovery time of COVID-19 patients by four days.
“As we navigate this unprecedented period, we must be on the front foot of the latest medical advancements, while always ensuring patient safety remains a top priority,” junior health minister James Bethell said.
“We will continue to monitor remdesivir’s success in clinical trials across the country to ensure the best results for UK patients.”
The government said the allocation of the drug would be determined by where it would have the greatest benefit, but did not say how many patients would be treated.
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) said last week that data from its trial of remdesivir showed that the drug offers the most benefit for COVID-19 patients who need extra oxygen but do not require mechanical ventilation.
The researchers also said that “given high mortality despite the use of remdesivir,” it is likely that the drug would be more effective in combination with other treatments for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
Stephen Griffin, an associate professor at Leeds University, welcomed the move to use remdesivir, saying it would “likely mean that the most severe COVID-19 patients will receive it first.” He said that while this approach was the most ethical, it also meant drug would not be a “magic bullet.”
“We can instead hope for improved recovery rates and a reduction in patient mortality,” Griffin said.
Gilead said it expects results from its own study of remdesivir in patients with moderate COVID-19 at the end of this month.