LONDON — Britain is taking steps to protect its stock of the drug remdesivir following its role in treating President Trump, a Health Ministry spokesman confirmed Monday, adding that there had been an increase in demand for the antiviral medication as cases and hospitalizations across the country continue to rise.
Health-care workers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center treated Trump with at least two doses of remdesivir, which has proved to be effective in treating covid-19 patients in trials this year.
“We are aware of a rise in the use of remdesivir in line with an increase in covid-19 hospital cases,” a ministry spokesman said, adding that Britain’s National Health Service had been asked to prioritize patients who needed the drug most in line with the increase in demand, according to Reuters.
Officials say that Britain, which has the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, has “plenty of supplies” of the drug but is taking precautionary steps as the country grapples to contain a second outbreak of the virus, particularly among young people.
In a clinical trial in April, the experimental drug was found to improve recovery time of coronavirus patients admitted to the hospital, results which sent sales and demand for the treatment soaring.
“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Anthony S. Fauci, chief of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at the time as doctors in the United States reserved supplies of the scarce drug for patients who needed it most.
The Washington Post reported in May that the Trump administration wrongly distributed the approved but severely limited drug to hospitals that did not need it, causing further delays to patients across the United States.