Coronavirus LIVE updates as US buys up world stock of key drug remdesivir


The United States has bought up almost all of the world’s stocks for the next three months of one of the two drugs proven to work against coronavirus, leaving none for the rest of the world.

Experts and campaigners are alarmed both by the US unilateral action on remdesivir and the wider implications, for instance in the event of a vaccine becoming available, the Guardian reports.

President Donald Trump’s administration has already shown that it is prepared to outbid other countries to secure the medical supplies it needs for the US.

Dr Andrew Hill, a senior visiting fellow at Liverpool University said the US has « got access to most of the drug supply [of remdesivir], so there’s nothing for Europe. »

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It has now bought more than 500,000 doses, which is all of the manufacturer Gilead’s production for July and 90 per cent of its output for August and September. The drug is the first to be licensed in the US for the treatment of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, in the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will face scrutiny from MPs in the Commons at Prime Minister’s Questions over the Leicester lockdown as a result of a spike in cases.

The government’s been criticised by the city’s mayor for its poor communications as all but essential shops are closed and the lockdown easing taking place throughout England on Saturday with the reopening of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers, will not happen there.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said people in Leicester were “crying out” for answers and suggested the government should have moved quicker.

The British Medical Association echoed these calls and said the government needs to be more « open and transparent with local Covid-19 data » and over how spikes in cases will be dealt with in the future.

A scientist advising the UK government on its coronavirus response has issued a warning that more local lockdowns should be expected.

Oxford University’s Professor Peter Horby, who chairs the new and emerging respiratory virus threats advisory group (Nervtag), was asked on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme if the public should brace for more local outbreaks.

Unfortunately I think we should. We’ve seen the epidemic is focal, which is often the case, it’s not the same in all places.

And we saw that London unfortunately led the way in the UK and now Leicester is unfortunately leading the way and we can expect more of that, so I think there will have to be local responses to local outbreaks.”

Imperial College London’s Professor Neil Ferguson, who used to advise the government, until he was caught breaking lockdown rules, described how the UK was « in retrospect, one of the most heavily-seed countries with infection in Europe. »

I would say, before we make international comparisons though, just bear in mind we are still very early into this pandemic – there’s a bit of an illusion out there that somehow we are past the worst.

This is far from over, so I think lessons can be learned from what happened in the UK up to now, but I would prefer to focus on getting the next six months right before looking back in earnest.”

Up to 5,000 jobs are under threat at Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza, which has outlets at airports and railway stations, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Owner SSP announced the measures due to the pandemic. It says it expects to open only around a fifth of its sites in the UK by the autumn as travel is set to remain at very low levels.

It has begun a consultation on a restructure to “simplify and reshape” the business in the face of the pandemic, which it said could lead to more than half of its 9,000-strong peak season workforce being axed.

In response to this, we are now taking further action to protect the business and create the right base from which to rebuild our operations. »

The Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said people in Leicester “just want clarity” over the return of tighter lockdown measures for the city.

I don’t think it’s fair to the people of Leicester to announce at a press conference on a Thursday afternoon that Leicester has a problem, but then actually take 11 days to tell Leicester that they are going into lockdown and what they are going to do about it.

People are really worried in Leicester, people are going to be anxious. People who are shielding are very, very scared.

People who were planning to get their businesses open this Saturday are desperately worried about their livelihoods and what happens next with the economy.

And every parent in Leicester is concerned about the safety of their children obviously, but is also deeply concerned about their children missing out on more education.”

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has warned that medics are “bracing” themselves for the reopening of pubs during the coronavirus crisis.

It actually is quite serious, we have emergency departments having to work in a very different way than they did before because we have to keep vulnerable patients safe so we can’t have crowded emergency departments.

What we can’t do is have a department that gets overwhelmed by people who are injured because they have got themselves into a fight, they have fallen off something, they have drunk so much that they actually need the health service’s help.

People have been standing at doorways clapping the NHS, well more important than clapping the NHS is using the resources responsibly and anybody who goes out and gets so drunk that they need an ambulance and they need to come to an emergency department is not supporting the NHS.”

Professor Neil Ferguson epidemiologist at Imperial College, London, told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme that it is inevitable we will see further outbreaks in the UK, like Leicester.

« What’s critical is we adopt measures early. What we are seeing at the moment is variation across the country. There’s clearly some concerns around the North West as well as Leicester. »

He said there are 6,000 cases a week nationally – the same as last week. He said there were not any large areas without any Covid at all.

He said: « This is far from over », as around 8 per cent of the population had been infected. but in London it was between 15 per cent and 20 per cent.

« Without doubt, we didn’t ramp up testing quickly enough. It was only when we started hospital surveillance, we got a good handle on that. »

The US Department of Health and Human Services has described the bid to buy up virtually all of the stocks of remdesivir from the manufacturer as « an amazing deal. »

President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorised therapeutic for Covid-19.

To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it.

The Trump administration is doing everything in our power to learn more about life-saving therapeutics for Covid-19 and secure access to these options for the American people.”

A scientist advising the UK government said that the US buying up stocks of coronavirus drug remdesivir raises concerns.

Oxford University’ Professor Peter Horby, who chairs the new and emerging respiratory virus threats advisory group (Nervtag) said manufacturer Gilead would be under “certain political pressures locally” as a US company.

It does raise two very important questions: what is a fair price for a drug and what is fair access to a drug, and those are common issues but are particularly important in a global crisis like this,

That’s part of the fair access question, the trial that gave the result that allowed remdesivir to sell their drug wasn’t just done in the US, there were patients participating through other European countries, in the UK as well, and internationally, Mexico and other places.

And I wonder how they would feel knowing now that the drug is going to have restricted availability in their own country and would they have volunteered for that trial if they had known that?”

On issues raised if a vaccine is found, he said we need a much stronger framework if we are going to develop these things and they’re going to be used for national emergencies.


Coronavirus, Remdesivir, Gilead Sciences

World news – GB – Coronavirus LIVE updates as US buys up world stock of key drug remdesivir

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