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.
Remdesivir has been just approved in the Czech Republic to be used in some COVID19 cases by the Czech State Institute for Drug Control (signature form Minister of health is pending and expected soon).
Remdesivir is now being tested in five Covid-19 clinical trials that have been set up at breakneck speed. It’s been delivered through a compassionate use program to some patients, including the first case in the United States. The first trial results are expected next month, though some analysts have already raised concerns about the prospects based on the drips of data emerging from a small number of patients.
Remdesivir cripples an enzyme called RNA polymerase that is used by many viruses to copy themselves; it does not specifically target SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. But it worked well in a test tube and animal studies of human coronaviruses, cousins of SARS-CoV-2 called severe acute respiratory syndrome and the Middle East respiratory syndrome, that cause similar respiratory conditions.
Others’ hopes are high for the drug. As of now, there are no approved therapies for any coronavirus infection, and Remdesivir is the farthest along in the development process of any candidate.
“There’s only one drug right now that we think may have real efficacy,” Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization said last month. “ And that’s Remdesivir.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic reached 434 on Tuesday evening.
Three patients are in “very serious to critical condition” according to the Health Ministry. Half of the positive patients were infected abroad, the others in the Czech Republic.
Over 6,300 tests have been conducted to date. Three people have fully recovered from COVID-19.
Around 170,000 people across the globe have now been infected with the coronavirus and over 6,500 have died.
After China managed to get a handle on its sudden outbreak other countries were blindsided by huge epidemics – almost 25,000 people have caught it in Italy, around 14,000 in Iran, 8,000 in Spain and more than 5,000 apiece in Germany and France.