WASHINGTON - The U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command announced that remdesivir, invented by the California-based Gilead Sciences, will be made available to all U.S. military personnel and their families who might get sick from the novel coronavirus.
So far 10 known cases of Covid-19 have been reported among active-duty service members, two of whom have served in countries where the virus is widespread.
Under the agreement between Gilead and U.S. Army, the drug will be provided to the Defense Department at no cost.
"Together with our government and industry partners, we are progressing at almost revolutionary rates to deliver effective treatment and prevention products that will protect the citizens of the world and preserve the readiness and lethality of our service members,” Army Brig. Gen. Michael Talley, commanding general of USAMRDC, said in a statement Tuesday.
The USAMRDC said that all U.S. Department of Defense affiliated personnel, “including active and reserve component service members, U.S. civilian employees, contractors, other U.S. personnel, and dependents of any age” who are diagnosed with COVID-19, are eligible to participate in the clinical trial.
Gilead's experimental drug remdesivir has been touted by public health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the most promising antivirals to fight the new coronavirus strain.
On Tuesday, CDC director Robert Redfield said that Gilead's pathogen-fighting COVID-19 treatment is already being deployed in Washington state, where the virus has claimed two dozen lives.
Remdesivir was approved for clinical research in February by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The medication, which initially was developed by Gilead to treat Ebola, has had some success targeting coronaviruses, including Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.
Tests of the drug are being conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as preliminary results from clinical trials that started in Wuhan in early February are expected next month.