Breakthrough drug touted as new hope against coronavirus

A US biotech firm has increased production of an experimental drug that has been touted by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most promising treatment for the coronavirus.

Gilead Sciences said it had also ramped up manufacturing of its antiviral medicine remdesivir to increase its supplies “as rapidly as possible”, as the first clinical trial of the drug in COVID-19 patients is due to report its findings next month.

In February, Gilead announced human clinical trials across multiple countries for the treatment, which has been cited by public health officials as the most promising therapy to date to fight the new coronavirus strain.

“There is only one drug right now that we think may have real efficacy and that’s remdesivir,” said WHO assistant director-general Bruce Aylward during a press conference in Beijing late February.

Timothy Sheahan, virologist at the University of North Carolina told The Guardian the drug could “help make people’s disease less severe, save lives for those hospitalised, and be used prophylactically for hospital workers and perhaps even in the community to limit spread out there”.

At the time of writing, a total of 113,702 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported globally, with the death toll reaching 4,012. The WHO said Monday that of over 80,0000 people who have been infected by the coronavirus in China, more than 70 per cent have recovered and been released from hospitals.

“We need to remember that with decisive early action we can slow down the virus and prevent infections,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Among those who are infected, most will recover.”

This article originally appeared on Over60.