Monday

10th Aug 2020

Coronavirus

EU secures remdesivir supplies for 30,000 patients

  • Earlier this month, the Trump administration bought more than 500,000 doses of remdesivir for American hospitals (Photo: www.freeimages.co.uk)

The European Commission announced on Wednesday (29 July) that batches of remdesivir, which can help recovery from Covid-19, will be made available to member states plus the UK from early August.

The commission this week signed a €63m contract with the US-based biopharmaceutical company Gilead to address "just immediate needs," after the US left Europe and most of the world without supplies.

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Earlier this month, the Trump administration bought more than 500,000 doses of remdesivir for American hospitals - which then accounted for about three-months of Gilead's production of the Covid-19 treatment.

The drug is the first, and so far the only, treatment against Covid-19 recommended by the Amsterdam-based European Medicines Agency (EMA) - with studies showing that patients treated with remdesivir recovered after 11 days.

The commission estimates that the treatment will be available to approximately 30,000 patients with "severe" Covid-19 symptoms.

The commission will coordinate the treatment allocation among members states with the support of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to ensure fair distribution.

EU commissioner for health, Stella Kyriakides, said that the agreement is "another important step forward in our fight to overcome this disease".

"The commission has been working tirelessly with Gilead to reach an agreement to ensure that stocks of the first treatment authorised against Covid-19 are delivered to the EU," she also said.

European authorities, meanwhile, will keep ensuring that the treatment complies with the EU's safety standards.

Following the conditions established by the EU on medicinal products, Gilead will have to submit a report about remdesivir studies to the EMA by December to move from conditional marketing authorisation to full marketing authorisation in the EU.

According to Reuters' calculations, Gilead is selling the drug to Europe at €2,100 per patient.

Additionally, the commission is working to secure extra remdesivir doses and other medical supplies in a joint procurement as from October.

The EU executive has previously warned about potential simultaneous outbreaks of seasonal influenza and Covid-19 during the autumn.

Member states have been asked to communicate their requirements for medical supplies, national production capacities, and stockpiles of personal protective equipment, medicines and medical devices, to avoid shortages.

The spike in the number of new coronavirus infections this month has raised alarm bells, amid what seems the beginning of the second coronavirus wave across the bloc.

EU unveils plan to counter second Covid-19 wave

The EU Commission unveiled on Wednesday a set of guidelines to strengthen the bloc's response to a potential future surge of coronavirus infections - and warned a simultaneous seasonal-flu plus Covid-19 outbreak would place a considerable strain on health systems.

Summit cut health & research, despite second-wave fear

The new EU4Health programme was the EU's flagship scheme for research and innovation but was brutally cut by leaders during this week's summit - from €9.4bn proposed just two months ago, to €1.67bn.

Spain fears tourism blow amid 'second wave' measures

Several European countries are now warning citizens not to visit Spain, after an increase in Covid-19 cases this month. However, Spanish foreign minister Arancha González Laya has insisted that Spain is still "a safe country".

Opinion

Italy has a responsibility, too

Little wonder the leaders of Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden are unwilling to sign off: they're not going to give money so the Italians can fund a tax cut in the middle of an economic crisis.

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