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.


New Filipino military chief vows to enforce controversial anti-terror law

Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay. (Supplied)
Updated 03 August 2020

New Filipino military chief vows to enforce controversial anti-terror law

  • Gapay said his priority would be to bring an end to the New People’s Army (NPA) — the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, based primarily in rural areas

MANILA: The new chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, on Monday assumed office with a vow to enforce the country’s recently enacted anti-terrorism law.
The controversial legislation took effect last month, despite legal challenges at the Supreme Court to stop its implementation.
It criminalizes acts that incite terrorism “by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners, or other representations.” The new law also grants authorities broad powers to wiretap and tag individuals and groups as terrorists and detain them without charge for up to 24 days.
“We will capitalize on this very good anti-terror law. It is comprehensive, it is proactive, and it is geared to prevent occurrence of terroristic acts,” Gapay said in his first speech as army chief.
He called on Filipinos to support the military because beside dealing with terrorism and communist insurgency, the country now faced an unseen enemy in the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The army, he said, was helping the government contain the deadly virus which had infected more than 100,000 people in the Philippines and claimed at least 2,100 lives.

We will capitalize on this very good anti-terror law. It is comprehensive, it is proactive, and it is geared to prevent occurrence of terroristic acts.

Lieutenant General Gilbert I. Gapay, Commanding general, Philippine Army

Gapay said his priority would be to bring an end to the New People’s Army (NPA) — the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, based primarily in rural areas — and local terrorist groups — Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and factions of the Daulah Islamiyah — that operate mainly in the country’s south.
“There will be no let up as we continue to be at the forefront confronting all these threats. We are trained for this but still we need the support of other agencies; we need the support of our fellow Filipinos,” Gapay added.
He said the army would continue to collaborate with partner agencies and foreign counterparts in addressing domestic and regional threats, adding that it would suggest provisions to the rules and regulations of the new law to enhance intelligence sharing and strengthen maritime security to deter foreign terrorists from entering the country through its porous sea borders.
Prior to his appointment, Gapay, who replaces the retiring Gen. Felimon T. Santos, Jr., served as the 61st army commander.