According to the country’s leading epidemiology expert, Deputy Health Minister Roman Prymula, the drug will be administered in four Czech hospitals: Prague’s Motol, Bulovka, and General University hospitals and the St. Anne’s Hospital in Brno
Remdesivir was created and developed by Gilead Sciences, under the direction of scientist Tomáš Cihlář, as a treatment for Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus infections. Gilead Sciences subsequently discovered that remdesivir had antiviral activity in vitro against multiple filo-, pneumo-, paramyxo-, and coronaviruses.
The experimental drug will only be administered to patients requiring a ventilator for their condition. Remdesivir has only been used on one patient in the Czech Republic so far, a taxi driver from Prague who was one of the earliest cases of the infection in the country, and whose condition improved after taking the treatment.
The core feature of remdesivir is the ability to prevent the virus from reproducing. The active substance breaks down in the patient’s body into an active ‘warrior’, a cell that ‘traps’ coronavirus-infected cells and prevent them from reproducing.
In recent weeks, there has been an exponential increase in compassionate use requests for emergency access to remdesivir, related to the spread of the coronavirus in Europe and the United States. This has flooded an emergency treatment access system that was set up for very limited access to investigational medicines and never intended for use in response to a pandemic.
Japan, the United States and South Korea are jointly conducting clinical trials of remdesivir on 400 patients.
Although scientists and companies around the world are racing to develop a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, the pneumonia-like disease caused by the novel coronavirus, no remedies have been confirmed effective or approved so far.