Coronavirus patients from around the world are being given the drug remdesivir as they recover.
The drug has been shown to shorten recovery time for Covid-19.
The UK Government is previously worked with remdesivir manufacturer Gilead Sciences to supply the drug to coronavirus sufferers.
On July 1 it was reported that the Trump administration bought up virtually all stocks of the drug providing the nation with a three month supply.
What is remdesivir?
Remdesivir is antiviral medication developed by Gilead Sciences.
It was initially developed in 2009 to treat hepatitis C.
It has also been tested as a treatment for Ebola disease and Marburg disease, but was not found to be effective.
It can have side effects including nausea, low blood pressure, and sweating.
How is it being used to treat coronavirus?
A remdesivir clinical trial found the drug cut the length of time coronavirus patients suffered symptoms from 15 days to 11.
Around 1,000 patients from hospitals including the UK, US, France, Italy and China took part in the global clinical trial for remdesivir.
US president Donald Trump has praised the drug, saying the US government is putting its “full power and might” behind it.
The drug is applied by being injected into a vein.
It destroys a part of the virus in order to stop it reproducing.
Who is able to receive the drug?
The Department of Health announced that adults and teenagers with severe Covid-19 can be treated with remdesivir if they fit a specific crtieria.
The drug is available to patients in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Respiratory Clinical Trials Unit in Hull is one of the centres which runs a trial of remdesivir.
Innovation Minister Lord Bethell said: “This shows fantastic progress. As we navigate this unprecedented period, we must be on the front foot of the latest medical advancements, while always ensuring patient safety remains a top priority.
“The latest expert scientific advice is at the heart of every decision we make, and we will continue to monitor remdesivir’s success in clinical trials across the country to ensure the best results for UK patients.”
US drug supply:
On July 1, the Trump administration bought up virtually all stocks for the next three months.
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) said it had secured more than 500,000 treatment courses of remdesivir for American hospitals.
This represents 100 per cent of the US pharmaceutical firm Gilead’s projected production for July (94,200 treatment courses), 90 per cent of production in August (174,900 treatment courses), and 90 per cent of production in September (232,800 treatment courses), alongside an allocation for clinical trials.
HHS secretary Alex Azar said in a statement: “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.”
Oxford University’s Professor Peter Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said manufacturer Gilead would be under “certain political pressures locally” as a US company.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “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?”
It also raises questions if a vaccine is found, he said.
“Commercial companies are built to behave like this and we need a much stronger framework if we are going to develop these things and they’re going to be used for national emergencies.”
Gilead has said it will charge 2,340 US dollars (£1,900) for a typical treatment course for people in the US and other developed countries.
It will sell for less in poorer countries where generic drug-makers are being allowed to produce it.
Critics in the US attacked the price because taxpayers have funded much of the drug’s development.