US military strikes deal for Gilead’s remdesivir COVID-19 treatment

Gilead’s remdesivir COVID-19 treatment will be made available to the US Military.

The U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC) has reached an arrangement with Gilead Sciences to provide the investigational coronavirus drug remdesivir to American troops confirmed to have COVID-19.

In February the Food and Drug Administration approved Gilead’s remdesivir COVID-19 treatment for clinical research. Remdesivir, which was initially developed to treat Ebola by Foster City, a California-based company, has also shown some success in treating coronaviruses (Cov), including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS.

Gilead’s remdesivir COVID-19 treatment

Gilead’s remdesivir investigational COVID-19 drug treatment is administered intravenously. At present remdesivir is undergoing two independent Phase 3 clinical trials in China and some other COVID-19 affected countries and one by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD) for safety and effectiveness.

In the NIAD research, the first volunteer at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha was an evacuee from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, who had tested positive for the 2019-nCoV coronavirus and was hospitalised.

Under the Gilead-U.S. Army agreement, the Department of Defense (DoD) will be supplied with remdesivir at no cost to the Army Medical Materiel Development Program.

In a press briefing from the 5th March, Army Brig. Gen. Michael Talley, commander general of the USAMRDC and Fort Detrick, Maryland, said:

“Together with our government and industry partners, we are progressing at very fast rates, revolutionary rates almost, a constant effort, and this is in order to deliver effective treatment and prevention products that’ll protect the citizens of the world and preserve the readiness and lethality of our DOD service members..”

Gilead rumps up remdesivir production

Gilead has already accelerated the manufacturing of the most promising COVID-19 treatment remdesivir in preparation for increased needs.

Gilead’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Merdad Parsey said last month that the rate of Gilead’s remdesivir COVID-19 treatment development “reflects the pressing need for treatment options and the shared commitment” of industry, government and health officials “to respond to this public threat with the highest urgency.”

Army Brig. Gen. Michael Talley, commander-in-chief of USAMRDC and Fort Detrick, Maryland, added in the press briefing that, many companies besides Gilead are designing virus therapies but none are in clinical studies.

In addition, private enterprises and federal researchers are working to develop a coronavirus vaccine. The Walter Reed Army Research Institute, and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command staff are conducting animal studies for a vaccine they started developing shortly after the outbreak started in Wuhan, China.

Officials expect a vaccine to be operational by next winter, should COVID-19 become an influenza-like seasonal illness. Currently, a number of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies across the globe are currently racing to bring a viable COVID-19 vaccine on the market.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul A. Friedrichs told reporters during the press conference that:

“We are trying a variety of medications and testing them in different scenarios so we hope that we will have some medical countermeasures available sooner” than a vaccine.

The new coronavirus, which was officially declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) this week, has already infected more than 1,800 Americans. Europe was declared to be the current epicentre of the outbreak, in a WHO tweet.

Yesterday, President Donald Trump suspended all flights from Europe to the United States, with the exception of the United Kingdom and Ireland. But the UK may still be added to the ban list, should more people become infected, the President stated today.