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13 COVID-19 patients administered remdesivir in S. Korea

All News 15:34 July 03, 2020

SEOUL, July 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea so far has administered remdesivir, an experimental drug conventionally used for Ebola, for 13 coronavirus patients in critical conditions here, health authorities said Friday.

The medication developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences Inc. started being supplied to treat COVID-19 patients here on Wednesday, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Currently, the number of coronavirus patients in critical conditions reached 34 in the country. Some 38 percent of them have been administered the drug, according to health authorities.

Coronavirus patients who need oxygen treatment, such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), are administered the drug.

This undated file photo shows remdesivir, an experimental drug conventionally used for Ebola by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences Inc. (Yonhap)

South Korea's drug safety watchdog approved the use of remdesivir as a treatment drug for the new coronavirus in June, allowing the drug's special importation.

The first batch of antiviral drugs was donated by Gilead Science. The KCDC plans to begin talks to purchase more next month, with details of the imported amount and price not to be disclosed.

Gilead Sciences earlier announced it will provide remdesivir at US$390 per vial for direct purchases by the United States and other developed countries.

COVID-19 patients here will not pay for the drug, as the country covers the cost of treating the highly infectious disease under the related law.

Coronavirus patients are usually given six vials of remdesivir over five days, which amounts to $2,340 per patient for a typical regimen. If necessary, the drug can be administered for another five days.

Remdesivir is the first medication shown to have a therapeutic effect on coronavirus patients since there is no scientifically proven treatment and no vaccine for the deadly illness.

South Korea added 63 cases of COVID-19, including 52 local infections, on Friday, raising the total caseload to 12,967, according to the KCDC.


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