US approves use of anti-viral drug remdesivir to treat coronavirus patients

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Antiviral drug remdesivir has been approved by US regulators to treat hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

After studied showed remdesivir a drug previously used to treat ebola patients, shortened recovery time by 31 per cent, or around four days on average, for hospitalised Covid-19 patients, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared its use.

Patients given the remdesivir drug were able to leave the hospital in 11 days on average, compared to 15 days for the placebo group. The drug may also help avert deaths, but that effect is not yet large enough for scientists to know for sure.

Now, the drug can be administered to patients with severe conditions, such as those experiencing breathing problems requiring supplemental oxygen or ventilators.

In normal times the FDA requires “substantial evidence” of a drug’s safety and effectiveness, usually through one or more large, rigorously controlled patient studies.

But during public health emergencies the agency can waive those standards and require only that an experimental treatment’s potential benefits outweigh its risks.

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