US buys up world’s stock of key COVID-19 drug, remdesivir

The United States has bought nearly the entire world”s supply of remdesivir, one of just two drugs proven to treat COVID-19.

The anti-viral drug patented by the US-based Gilead biotech firm is the only one approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to treat patients with the novel coronavirus.

The announcement from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) implies European health authorities may not be able to acquire any supplies until the autumn.

Euronews has contacted EMA and the European Commission for comment.

US authorities secured more than 500,000 treatment courses of the drug through September, which “represents 100 per cent of Gilead’s projected production for July (94,200 treatment courses), 90 per cent of production in August (174,900 treatment courses), and 90 per cent of production in September (232,800 treatment courses),” the HHS said in a statement.

“To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it,” HHS Secteray Alex Azar said.

“The Trump administration is doing everything in our power to learn more about life-saving therapeutics for COVID-19 and secure access to these options for the American people,” he added.

The US is the most heavily impacted country in the world by the pandemic. As of Tuesday, it had recorded more than 127,000 COVID-related deaths and over 2.6 million confirmed cases.

A sharp surge in infections over the past week has prompted governors in Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas to reimpose lockdown restrictions in their states.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the US, also warned on Tuesday that the country’s tally of daily new cases could grow to 100,000 if Americans don’t start following public health recommendations.