Fri | Aug 7, 2020

Health experts slam US hoarding of only licensed virus drug

Published:Wednesday | July 1, 2020 | 11:07 AM
President Donald Trump signs his name on a piece of paper during a roundtable with governors on the reopening of America's small businesses, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Thursday, June 18, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

LONDON (AP) — Health experts on Wednesday slammed the United Stated decision to hog nearly the entire global supply of remdesivir, the only drug licensed so far to treat COVID-19, warning that type of selfish behaviour sets a dangerous precedent for attempts to share scarce treatments amid the pandemic.

The U.S. government announced Tuesday that President Donald Trump had struck “an amazing deal” to buy the drug for Americans, made by Gilead Sciences.

The Department of Health and Human Services said Trump has secured 500,000 treatments of the drug through September, representing 100% of Gilead’s July production capacity and 90% of its capacity in August and September.

“The Trump administration is doing everything in our power to learn more about lifesaving therapeutics for COVID-19 and secure access to these options for the American people,” HHS said in a statement.

Early trials testing remdesivir in patients hospitalised with COVID-19 found that those who received the drug recovered quicker than those who didn’t.

It is the only drug licensed by both the US and the European Union as a treatment for those with severe illness from the coronavirus.

Ohid Yaqub, a senior lecturer at the University of Sussex. called the move “disappointing news.”

“It so clearly signals an unwillingness to cooperate with other countries and the chilling effect this has on international agreements about intellectual property rights,” Yaqub said in a statement.

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