UK allows use of ebola drug remdesivir in severely ill coronavirus patients

26 May 2020, 11:54 | Updated: 26 May 2020, 12:01

Severely ill patients admitted to UK hospitals with Covid-19 are to be given access to the drug remdesivir
Severely ill patients admitted to UK hospitals with Covid-19 are to be given access to the drug remdesivir. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Severely ill patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 are to be given access to the drug remdesivir, which has been shown to shorten recovery time.

Health chiefs said today that the drug will be available on the NHS and doctors can prescribe it to adults and adolescents who have severe Covid-19 infection where there is a likelihood it will benefit them.

The Department of Health and Social Care said the UK Government is working with manufacturer Gilead Sciences to supply remdesivir treatment to some NHS patients.

Earlier this month, a global clinical trial, which is continuing, found that remdesivir cut the length of time people suffered symptoms from 15 days to 11.

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The trial involves around 1,000 patients from hospitals including the UK, US, France, Italy and China.

Remdesivir is an anti-viral medicine that was originally developed to fight Ebola.

Innovation Minister Lord Bethell said: "This shows fantastic progress. 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.

"The latest expert scientific advice is at the heart of every decision we make, and we will continue to monitor remdesivir's success in clinical trials across the country to ensure the best results for UK patients."

The Respiratory Clinical Trials Unit in Hull is one of the centres which runs a trial of remdesivir.

President Donald Trump has said the US government is putting its "full power and might" behind remdesivir.

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