US buys up global supply of Covid-19 drug  

By Fabian Sutch-Daggett - World Healthcare Journal

Today, the US has purchased the entire global supply of one of the key drugs proven to work against Covid-19, leaving none for any other countries to buy for at least the next three months.

The US health department announced on Tuesday it had agreed to buy 500,000 doses of the treatment for use in American hospitals. Purchased from the pharmaceutical giant Gilead, critics have warned that the procurement of such a large quantity of the global supply damages international relations regarding Covid-19 treatment collaboration.

The drug, known as Remdesivir, was originally trialled in the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, and is currently exclusively produced by Gilead in the US. It is also priced at more than $2,000 for one course of treatment in wealthy nations.

"The trial that gave the result that allowed Remdesivir to sell their drug wasn't just done in the US. There were patients participating through other European countries, in the UK as well, and internationally, Mexico and other places," Oxford University Professor Peter Horby told the BBC.

"This deal that's been struck by America means that people with Covid-19 in the UK can't get access to these treatments that would get them out of hospital quickly and might improve their chances of survival,” says Dr Andrew Hill, a senior visiting research fellow at Liverpool University, said in an interview with Sky News.

"So far, we know that for the next three months there will be no supplies of Remdesivir - America will take the drugs and we won't have access to them. That's the case in the UK and Europe."

Trials of the antiviral drug on coronavirus patients have shown that through stopping the virus reproducing, patients experience symptoms of the disease for a shorter period of time, enabling patients to recover faster.

The only other drug which has been proven useful against Covid-19 so far is dexamethasone, which in contrast to Remdesivir, is very cheap to produce and widely available.

This deal comes as the pandemic in the US is currently escalating out of control, with Anthony Fauci, Director of the NIAID, warning the Senate today that the country could see “up to 100,000” cases every day if immediate changes are not made within the nation. Currently, the US is reporting around 40,000 new cases per day.

When asked about the potential death toll in the US, he failed to give an estimate but warned that it will be “very disturbing, I guarantee you that. ”

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