Trump ‘undermining’ UK’s coronavirus fight by hoarding breakthrough drug

Business minister Nadhim Zahawi criticised Donald Trump for buying out medical supplies of remdesivir (Picture: Sky News)

Donald Trump has been accused of ‘undermining’ the international fight against coronavirus after the US bought almost the entire global stock of breakthrough drug remdesivir.

Business minister Nadhim Zahawi criticised the president for hoarding the medicine, which reduces the length of time Covid-19 patients experience symptoms.

He said the UK would never force other nations to ‘compete’ for treatment by buying out global supplies, citing the example of AstraZeneca, a British-Swede multinational company that has made deals with countries all over the world to supply a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University.

Discussing Trump’s deal on Sky News Mr Zahawi said: ‘We want to cooperate, the best outcome for the whole world is that we work together as AstraZeneca has done.

‘It’s much better to work together than to work to undermine each other, so we’ll continue in that spirit.’

Visit our live blog for the latest updates: Coronavirus news live

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web
browser that
supports HTML5

It was revealed on Tuesday night that Donald Trump’s administration has bought the next 500,000 doses of the anti-viral treatment remdesivir, leaving none for the rest of the world.

The drug was developed to treat Ebola and is produced almost exclusively by US pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences.

The company has agreed to send nearly all of its supply of the drug to the US over the next three months. Trump’s order represents Gilead’s entire production run for July, and 90% of all the remdesivir it will manufacture throughout August and September.

This means the breakthrough treatment will not be available for use on patients in the UK and Europe until October.

Dr Andrew Hill, a research fellow at Liverpool University, told Sky News: ‘This deal that’s been struck by America means that people with COVID-19 in the UK can’t get access to these treatments that would get them out of hospital quickly and might improve their chances of survival.

‘So far, we know that for the next three months there will be no supplies of remdesivir – America will take the drugs and we won’t have access to them. That’s the case in the UK and Europe.’

US officials have hailed the buy-up, which means the rest of the world can’t access the medicine for three months (Picture: Getty)

Dr Hill said low and middle-income countries can produce generic versions of the drug but are unable to sell them to Europe because Gilead has a patent for it.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock previously described the use of remdesivir on Covid patients as the ‘biggest step forward in the treatment of coronavirus since the crisis began’.

It was hoped the NHS could roll it out to adults and teenagers suffering severe symptoms, but the US move appears to have put this on hold.

Gilead first devised it as an ultimately unsuccessful treatment for Ebola, and now plans to charge American patients $3,200 for six doses.

It cannot cure or prevent Covid-19, but hospitalised patients given the drug were found to recover 31% faster than those who weren’t. Trials also showed it reduced the proportion of hospital patients who died of coronavirus from 11% to 8%.

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar hailed the buy-up on Tuesday, saying: ‘President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorized therapeutic for Covid-19.’

Research teams across the world continue to work on a vaccine that can prevent coronavirus.

Earlier this month. British scientists revealed that the steroid dexamethasone also works as an effective coronavirus treatment.

The drug is 60 years old, cheap and widely available.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at

For more stories like this, check our news page.


READ  Liver cancer deaths soar by 50% due to late diagnosis – the signs you need to know

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.