US buys up global Remdesivir stock

The US has bought nearly the entire world's supply of remdesivir, one of just two drugs proven to treat Covid-19, news wires reported. US authorities secured more than 500,000 treatment courses of the drug through September, which "represents 100% of Gilead's projected production for July, 90% of production in August, and 90% of production in September," the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a statement.

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 HHS announcement implies European health authorities may not be able to acquire any supplies until the autumn.

Remdesivir has been found to reduce recovery time for hospitalised Covid-19 patients from 15 to 11 days. The effect was not observed in patients with mild or moderate disease. "To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it," HHS Secretary 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.

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