Thursday

30th Jun 2022

EU stands by anti-Covid drug, despite WHO doubts

  • The WHO found 'a lack of evidence that remdesivir improved outcomes that matter to patients' - but it has already been distributed by the EU (Photo: Jernej Furman)

The European Commission has not written off remdesivir to treat Covid-19, after the drug was distributed to tens of thousands of people - despite a recent statement from the World Health Organization (WHO) that the antiviral medicine is ineffective and should not be used.

"I will not get into a scientific analysis of remdesivir, this is for science to do that," said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Friday (20 November), when pressed on the issue.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

She noted contracts signed with pharmaceutical companies for vaccines have built-in liability clauses. "They have to be effective and safe," she said.

But the commission had already paid the US-based biopharmaceutical company Gilead some €70m to treat 33,380 people with remdesivir.

Those doses were distributed across the EU and the UK, between August and October.

"The medication has been disbursed in several instalments," said the European Commission in early October.

The commission then signed a €1bn joint-procurement contract with Gilead for 500,000 courses of the drug.

The antiviral, also known by the brand name Veklury, was given the green light by the European Medicines Agency.

Veklury contains the active substance remdesivir.

The agency said Veklury had cut recovery times for Covid patients with pneumonia requiring supplemental oxygen.

But guidelines issued by a panel at the WHO on Friday (20 November) now appear to contest those findings.

"The ... panel found a lack of evidence that remdesivir improved outcomes that matter to patients," it said.

"Especially given the costs and resource implications associated with remdesivir ... the panel felt the responsibility should be on demonstrating evidence of efficacy, which is not established by the currently available data," it added.

For its part, Gilead contested the findings by the panel.

EU commission keeps vaccine price secret

The European Commission is about to sign a fourth contract for hundreds of millions of vaccine doses against Covid-19. The contracts include non-disclosure clauses, meaning things like price or even where they will be produced remains confidential.

EU secures remdesivir supplies for 30,000 patients

The European Commission signed this week a €63m contract with the US-based biopharmaceutical company Gilead to secure batches of remdesivir for 30,000 patients with "severe" Covid-19 symptoms - after the US left Europe and most of the world without supplies.

EU seals new Covid-19 deal amid global distribution fears

The European Commission sealed a second Covid-19 vaccine deal, amid fears over the fair distribution of supplies worldwide. So far Brussels has secured, or is negotiating, a stock of nearly two billion doses.

Opinion

How industry watered-down new EU supply chain rules

The Commission fell hook, line, and sinker for the arguments of big business on the corporate due diligence directive — conflating rules and regulations with so-called 'red tape' and rebranding regulations as 'burdens' on business which should be scrapped.

Podcast

Against white feminism: European edition

Author Rafia Zakaria turned the feminist world upside down with her bestselling book Against White Feminism. She talks with the Brussels-based journalist Shada Islam about the prevalence of white feminist thinking in Europe — particularly France.

News in Brief

  1. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit
  2. Russia urges Nato not to build bases in Sweden, Finland
  3. New president for European Committee of the Regions
  4. Gas flows from Spain to Morocco, after Western Sahara row
  5. BioNTech, Pfizer test 'universal' coronavirus vaccine
  6. UK sanctions second-richest Russian businessman
  7. Hungary permits emergency supervision of energy firms
  8. Bulgaria expels 70 alleged Russian spies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  3. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  5. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers

Latest News

  1. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  2. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike
  3. EU's post-Covid billions flowing into black hole
  4. Nato expands and reinforces on Russian flank
  5. EU Commission says it cannot find messages with Pfizer CEO
  6. EU ministers sign off on climate laws amid German infighting
  7. EU presidency still looking for asylum relocation pledges
  8. Finland and Sweden to join Nato, as Erdoğan drops veto

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us