Coronavirus breakthrough: US approves Trump drug to treat COVID in major step forward

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Remdesivir is given to patients through an IV in hospital and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of COVID-19. It is believed to prevent SARS CoV-2 from multiplying in the body.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump was rushed to Walter Reed Military Hospital after testing positive for the deadly virus.

Mr Trump was treated with the antiviral drug and returned to the White House after just three days in hospital.

The drug has now been authorised for use across the US on an emergency basis since spring but has now become the first drug to win full approval in the country.

The US National Institutes of Health reported the drug reduce the number of days to recovery by five – from 15 days to 10 on average.

However the World Health Organisation said last week remdesivir did not help patients survive or recover any faster.

Gilead Sciences approved the drug for people at least 12 years old and weighing more than 40 kilograms (88lb) who need hospital admission for their infection.

The California-based developer began researching remdesivir back in 2009 as part of a study into hepatitis C and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

In May, the drug was approved for use in the UK which Health Secretary Matt Hancock dubbing the development the “biggest step forward in the treatment of coronavirus since the crisis began”.

He said at the time: “Today I can announce we are beginning a new trial for selected NHS patients of an antiviral drug called remdesivir.

“There have already been some promising results on coronavirus patients, with early data suggesting it can shorten recovery time by around four days.

“As you can understand, we’ll be prioritising the use of this treatment where it will provide the greatest benefit.

“This is probably the biggest step forward in the treatment of coronavirus since the crisis began.”

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Remdesivir has also been authorised by the EU for COVID-19 treatment only.

Yesterday, a vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca was found to work as planned by new analysis.

A method to check the inoculation contained all the correct parts was developed by a team of researchers at Bristol University, finding greater evidence the vaccine works.

Dr David Matthews, of Bristol’s School of Cellar and Molecular Medicine, who led the research, said: “This is an important study as we are able to confirm that the generic instructions underpinning this vaccine, which is being developed as fast as safely possible, are correctly followed when they get into a human cell.

“Until now, the technology hasn’t been able to provide answers with such clarity, but we now know the vaccine is doing everything we expected and that is only good news in our fight against the illness.:

Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, added: “This is a wonderful example of cross-disciplinary collaboration, using new technology to examine exactly what the vaccine does when it gets inside a human cell.

“The study confirms that large amounts of the coronavirus spike protein are produced with great accuracy, and this goes a long way to explaining the success of the vaccine in inducing a strong immune response.”

The UK has one of the highest infection rates across Europe and recorded 21,242 new cases yesterday.

A further 189 people were reported to have died within the last 24 hours after testing positive for the virus.

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