The executive branch of the European Union announced Thursday it has signed a deal with pharmaceutical company Gilead to buy 500,000 treatment courses of Remdesivir, an antiviral drug shown to be effective in treating symptoms of COVID-19.
The European Commission, which has overseen joint purchases of vaccines for the European bloc, said there were 37 signatories to the agreement, including all EU countries, six Balkan candidate and potential EU members, Britain and other European Economic Area countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
No treatment has yet proved able to prevent serious illness after a coronavirus infection, but the antiviral drug, also known by its commercial name Veklury, has helped some COVID-19 patients recover faster. It is among the drugs being used to treat U.S. President Donald Trump, who tested positive for coronavirus last week.
Remdesivir was approved as a treatment for by the commission in July. There are reports of shortages of the drug among EU members because many countries in the region have seen a resurgence of COVID-19 in recent weeks.
The drug company said the agreement will allow countries to purchase the drug for immediate use and stockpiling needs.
European Commission spokesman Stefan De Keersmaecker said Thursday during a briefing that a coronavirus vaccine candidate being tested by drug maker Johnson and Johnson is in phase three of its clinical trials.
Keersmaecker says the commission has contracted with the pharmaceutical company to allow EU members to purchase enough of the vaccine, should it prove viable, to treat 200 million people, with the option of buying enough for 200 million more.