Doses of ‘promising’ drug remdesivir to treat 140,000 coronavirus patients can be ‘ready by end of May’ – The Sun
Gilead Sciences has said it has capacity to roll out a million doses by the end of the year.
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In a press release announcing Gilead's first quarter earnings they said they were massively expanding ability to manufacture the drug.
They said: "As Gilead continues to work with international partners to expand production…it anticipates more than one million treatment course will be manufactured by December 2020, with plans to be able to produce several million treatment courses in 2021."
The company added it has already begun to ramp up production and could make enough 10-day courses of the drug to treat 140,000 COVID-19 patients by the end of the month.
The drug has been labelled "promising" by UK's Chief Scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance.
Early results from a study by the US National Institute of Health suggests the drug could improve the odds of survival for very ill coronavirus patients by as much as 30 per cent.
It could also speed up recovery time from 14 days to 11 days.
Gilead CEO Daniel O'Day said the results were "hope at a time when it is badly needed" in a letter seen by Fox News.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to give emergency use authorisation for the drug to treat coronavirus patients, according to the New York Times.
Gilead has said the doses able to be manufactured might be even higher if people don't need to be on a 10-day course.
They said: "(The timeline) projections assume a 10-day dosing duration and the number of treatment courses expected to be available may actually be higher based on the recent (results)… which suggest the potential for certain patients to be treated with a shorter dosing duration."
In the study on remdesivir, half of the 397 trial patients sick enough to need oxygen treatment but not ventilation, improved within 10 days of a five-day treatment course.
Those on a 10-day course were better by day 11.
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According to Gilead, more than half the patients were discharged from hospital within two weeks.
But Sir Patrick said people should be cautious about getting too hopeful about the drug.
He said: "It absolutely does hit a particular part of the virus, there are some structures of proteins from the virus, you can show the drug is binding too.
"(The US study) showed a benefit in terms of recovery time by about four days, but did not have a statistically significant affect on deaths."
"There were fewer deaths but they were not statistically significant."
"This is a really promising first step, if you have a drug that binds to a bit of the virus and inhibits it you can get some effect but that effect isn't very large – but it could get bigger."
"It's definitely not a magic bullet."
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty echoed Sir Patrick's caution.
He said: "You should always wait to see the published paper that's been peer reviewed.
"Let's see the data and not over-interpret where we are, clearly this is an encouraging first step."
"People often imagine you move suddenly from where you have no treatment or no vaccine to suddenly having treatment or a vaccine
"It happens by incremental steps, you move forward with things steadily improving, sometimes with combinations of drugs."