LONDON — Coronavirus patients in 36 countries will soon be given access to the antiviral drug remdesivir under a deal negotiated between the European Commission and American biopharmaceutical company Gilead on Thursday.
Britain said earlier this week that it was moving to protect its stock of the scarce drug, demand for which has soared since staff at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center treated President Trump with at least two doses of it after he tested positive for the coronavirus last week.
The shortage comes following a move by the Trump administration in June to purchase almost all supplies of the drug.
Stella Kyriakides, the European commissioner for health and food safety, said the deal had secured enough supplies of the medicine to treat up to 500,000 patients in all European Union member states and several other countries.
“We are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to ensure that safe and efficient therapeutics are available against covid-19,” she said. “We are always stronger together, and this is European solidarity in action against covid-19.”
In trials this year, the drug proved to be effective in treating covid-19 patients and was found to reduce recovery time, although it remains unclear if the medication is able to save lives.
“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 in April.
Further investigations into the drug continue, with the World Health Organization set to announce results from a trial of 3,000 patients in the near future.