WHO talks with the United States on the supply of a drug

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The World Health Organization said on Monday that it would hold talks with the United States government and Gilead Sciences on how antiviral remdesivir might be more widely available to treat Covid-19 as data emerged on its effectiveness.

WHO welcomes recent data from a US government clinical trial showing the drug appears to be effective in reducing recovery times for Covid-19 patients, said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO program health emergencies during a press conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva.

“There are signs of hope there for the potential use of the drug,” he said.

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday granted emergency use authorization for Gilead’s drug to treat Covid-19 after the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases released the results of its clinical trial showing that patients who took remdesivir generally recovered after 11 days, four days faster than those who did not take the drug.

The drug has not been officially approved to treat the virus, and US health officials warn of new data on the drug that has not yet been reviewed by peers. Even though the drug has been granted for emergency use, there are still several clinical trials underway, including a WHO solidarity trial, testing the drug to see if it is effective in combating coronavirus.

“We are grateful to Gilead and the CEO for having had direct discussions at the highest level to ensure that we have access to remdesivir to launch the solidarity trials around the world,” said Ryan.

Remdesivir has shown promise in the treatment of SARS and MERS, which are also caused by coronaviruses. Some health authorities in the United States, China, and other parts of the world are using remdesivir, which has been tested as a possible treatment for the Ebola outbreak, in the hope that the drug may improve the results for Covid-19 patients.

President Donald Trump has presented remdesivir as a potential treatment for the virus, which has infected more than 3.5 million people worldwide and killed at least 247,752, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Last week, he said he wanted the FDA to act “as soon as possible” to approve the drug.

Gilead plans to produce more than 140,000 cycles of its 10-day treatment program by the end of May and expects to complete 1 million cycles by the end of this year. Gilead said he would be able to produce “several million” sets of his antiviral drug next year.

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