Scientists condemn US move to buy up almost entire supply of coronavirus drug

Two ampules of Ebola drug Remdesivir are pictured during a news conference at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, Germany: (dpa-Pool)

The US has bought up nearly all of the coronavirus drug Remdesivir available on the market, a move that has left scientists frustrated and worried.

Remdesivir, made by the company Gilead Sciences originally as an Ebola treatment, is the first drug that has been shown to effectively treat Covid-19. The US has bought 500,000 doses of the drug, enough to clear out Gilead of its stock for all of July and most of August and September.

Dr Ohid Yaqub, Senior Lecturer at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, said that in addition to leaving the rest of the world without access to the drug, the US’s hoarding of the critical medicine has also concerned scientists who fear the nation will not collaborate with other nations in response to the pandemic.

“The buying-up of Remdesivir is disappointing news, not necessarily because of the shortages it implies for other countries, but because it so clearly signals an unwillingness to co-operate with other countries, and the chilling effect this has on international agreements about intellectual property rights,” Mr Yaqub said in a statement released through the Science Media Centre.

The recent drug purchase isn’t the first time the US has tried to box-out the rest of the world during the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month, the CEO of Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company working on a vaccine, said the US would get access to any vaccines produced first since it had contributed the most funding towards research, an announcement that was not well received across the rest of Europe.

By: Graig Graziosi
Source: The Independent