By Chioma Obinna
A drug originally designed for the treatment of Ebola appears to be gradually getting global endorsement for the treatment of coronavirus. Early last week, the United States (US) announced that it had arranged for the entire stock of Remdesivir for the next three months to be delivered to it.
US is among the countries worst hit by coronavirus otherwise known as Covid-19.
The European Union (EU), on its part, at the weekend, approved the use of the drug to treat severe cases of coronavirus.
But Nigeria said, yesterday, it will only consider the inclusion of Remdesivir in its Covid-19 treatment protocol based on further evidence and relevant processes in the country.
There is, of recent, a spike in the cases of coronavirus in the country, especially since the lockdown was eased and testing for the virus scaled up.
The latest high profile case of the virus is the governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, who was announced to have contracted the disease yesterday.
Other recent high profile cases in Nigeria include the governor of Ondo State, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, and his wife, the governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, his wife and daughter, as well as the governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu, whose recovery was announced yesterday.
A former governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, also died penultimate week apparently from complications arising from Covid-19 infection.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who spoke on the global endorsement of Remdevisir for coronavirus, even if on limited scale, said while Nigeria would continue to monitor emerging evidence from various clinical trials across the world, the review of the country is guidelines and treatment protocol would be guided by scientific evidence.
Ihekweazu said: “Although Remdesivir has been authorised for emergency use in the US by the US Food and Drug Administration, its safety and efficacy for COVID-19 use has not been fully established..
“The review of our guidelines and treatment protocols continues to be guided by scientific evidence. We know that early results have shown that Remdesivir is a promising drug against COVID-19, and we will consider its inclusion based on further evidence and other relevant processes in Nigeria.
“The World Health Organization and Africa Centre for Disease Control, CDC, have stated their commitment to work with the drug manufacturers, in ensuring equitable access of Remdesivir.”
Speaking on Madagascar purported COVID cure, the NCDC boss said the product was under validation at the Nigerian Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development. “The Honourable Minister of Health
has announced that the purported cure from Madagascar is under validation at our sister agency, the Nigerian Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development.
“While we continue to look into home-grown solutions, we remain focused on science and solutions that can are safe and verifiable through scientific methods.”
According to the EU Health Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, the authorization of a first medicine to treat COVID-19 was an important step forward in the fight against the virus.
She said: “We are granting this authorisation less than a month after the application was submitted, showing clearly the EU’s determination to respond quickly whenever new treatments become available.”
Also, the United States government said it had purchased over 500,000 treatment courses, practically nearly all the available global supplies for the next three months of Remdesivir.
The US Department of Health Services, HHS, announced on Monday that it had secured the products from drugmaker Gilead Sciences for US hospitals until September.
The stocks make up 100 percent of Gilead’s projected production for July and 90 percent each for August and September.
The HHS Secretary, Alex Azar, in a statement, said President Donald Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorised therapeutic for COVID-19.
Remdesivir, which is administered intravenously, becomes the first drug to show improvement in COVID-19 patients in formal clinical trials, and new information about its efficacy is being closely watched around the world, as nations battle the coronavirus pandemic.
Remdesivir was approved in UK at the end of May, with health officials outlining that it would only be used to treat the sickest patients.
It is one of two drugs approved in Britain to treat COVID-19, the other being a cheap steroid called dexamethasone.