India's government said on 2 June 2020 it has approved Gilead Sciences Inc's antiviral drug remdesivir for emergency use in treating Covid-19 patients. Remdesivir is the first drug to show improvement in Covid-19 patients in formal clinical trials. It was granted emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration last month and has received approval by Japanese health regulators. (Remdesivir) approved under emergency use with condition for five dose administration, the Drugs Controller General of India said. 

 

What

  1. As of 2 June 2020, India has 198,706 cases of coronavirus and has recorded 5,598 deaths, health ministry data showed.
  2. Gilead Sciences had on 1 June 2020 reported that remdesivir showed modest benefit in patients with moderate Covid-19 given a five-day course, while those who received it for 10 days in the study did not fare as well.
  3. European and South Korean authorities are also looking at remdesivir, with South Korean health authorities saying they would request imports of the drug. Gilead is yet to gain regulatory approval in either market.

What is remdesivir?

  1. It is a drug with antiviral properties that was manufactured by US-based biotechnology company in 2014, to treat Ebola cases.
  2. It was also tried in patients of MERS and SARS, both caused by members of the coronavirus family, but experts said it did now show promising results back then.
  3. Coronaviruses have a single-strand RNA as their genetic material. When the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2 enters a human cell, an enzyme called RdRP helps the virus replicate. Remdesivir works by inhibiting the activity of RdRP.
  4. Infectious disease expert Dr Tanu Singhal said, When the virus engulfs itself around a human cell, it injects its RNA inside the cell.
  5. The RdRp enzyme causes viral replication. Remdesivir inhibits the enzyme and stops further replication.