The United States of America has authorised the emergency use of the Remdesivir drug to treat patients suffering from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
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The US’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the emergency authorisation on Friday.
The authorisation was given after a recent clinical trial showed that the drug – originally developed to treat Ebola- helped shorten the recovery time for people who were seriously ill.
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However, emergency FDA authorisation is not the same as formal approval, which requires a higher level of review.
Speaking at a meeting with US President, Donald Trump, in the Oval Office on Friday, Stephen Hahn, FDA Commissioner, said: “It’s the first authorised therapy for Covid-19, so we’re really proud to be part of it.”
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Also speaking, Daniel O’Day, Chief Executive Officer of Gilead, manufacturers of the drug, said the FDA authorisation was an important first step.
O’Day stated that the company would donate 1.5 million vials of the drug.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), had during the week explained that Remdesivir during its clinical trial cut the duration of symptoms from 15 days down to 11.
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The trials involved 1,063 people at hospitals around the world. Some were given the drug and others were given a placebo (dummy) treatment.
Experts have, however, warned that the drug should not be seen as a “magic bullet” for coronavirus.