Britain to provide anti-viral drug remdesivir to some COVID-19 patients

In this file photo taken on April 08, 2020, vials of the drug Remdesivir sit on a table during a press conference about the start of a study of the Ebola drug in severely ill COVID-19 patients, at the University Hospital Eppendorf in Hamburg, Germany. (AFP)
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Updated 26 May 2020

Britain to provide anti-viral drug remdesivir to some COVID-19 patients

  • Early data from clinical trials showed that the drug could shorten the recovery time of COVID-19 patients by four days

LONDON: Britain will provide the anti-viral drug remdesivir to certain COVID-19 patients that it is most likely to benefit as part of a collaboration with manufacturer Gilead Sciences, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
The department of health said early data from clinical trials around the world showed that the drug could shorten the recovery time of COVID-19 patients by four days.
“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,” junior health minister James Bethell said.
“We will continue to monitor remdesivir’s success in clinical trials across the country to ensure the best results for UK patients.”
The government said the allocation of the drug would be determined by where it would have the greatest benefit, but did not say how many patients would be treated.
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) said last week that data from its trial of remdesivir showed that the drug offers the most benefit for COVID-19 patients who need extra oxygen but do not require mechanical ventilation.
The researchers also said that “given high mortality despite the use of remdesivir,” it is likely that the drug would be more effective in combination with other treatments for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
Stephen Griffin, an associate professor at Leeds University, welcomed the move to use remdesivir, saying it would “likely mean that the most severe COVID-19 patients will receive it first.” He said that while this approach was the most ethical, it also meant drug would not be a “magic bullet.”
“We can instead hope for improved recovery rates and a reduction in patient mortality,” Griffin said.
Gilead said it expects results from its own study of remdesivir in patients with moderate COVID-19 at the end of this month.


Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

Updated 13 August 2020

Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

  • Spotlight on economy, security as 67 officials take oath in palace ceremony

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa administered the oath of office to 28 new Cabinet ministers and 39 state ministers on Wednesday during a swearing-in ceremony at the Kandy Royal Palace, a week after the Aug. 5 general elections.

“The Cabinet has been formed in a pragmatic and a realistic manner to implement the national program. Special attention was paid to national security, economic development, infrastructure, education, health and sports,” a Presidential Secretariat statement said.

While President Rajapaksa retained the defense portfolio, his brother, Namal Rajapaksa — the 34-year-old son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa — was named minister for youth and sports.

Several senior politicians, including former president Maithripala Sirisena, were left out of the new Cabinet.

The ninth parliament is set to meet on Aug. 20.

Only two members from minority communities, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda and Justice Minister Ali Sabry, were appointed from the Tamil and Muslim communities, respectively.

“I’m delighted to get this portfolio in recognition of my services to the nation, particularly to the legal field,” Sabry said.

He is the second Muslim justice minister to assume office after Rauff Hakeem of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party, led by PM Rajapaksa, polled 6,853,690, or 59 percent of votes, and secured a total of 145 seats in parliament, including 17 of the National List seats.

Sabry said government efforts to limit the coronavirus pandemic had “impressed the nation enough to vote them into power.”

Lawyer Razik Zarook said: “It’s a great victory for the Muslim community. The era of mistrust and suspicion is over, and the foundation is laid to build the bridges of friendship and amity.”

However, international political lobbyist Muheed Jeeran told Arab News that though the Cabinet is promising, it is “full of confusion.”

“Sabry’s appointment has disappointed the nationalist group who want to implement one nation, one law,” he said.

“But it is a joyful moment for Muslims who supported the SLPP. However, it will be difficult for Sabry as justice minister. Will he become the wooden handle of the axe to chop the tree of traditional Muslim laws as per the nationalist agenda, or will he stand for Muslim rights?”