Innovation Minister Lord Bethell said: “This shows fantastic progress. As we navigate this unprecedented period, we must be on the front foot of the latest medical advancements, while always ensuring patient safety remains a top priority.

“The latest expert scientific advice is at the heart of every decision we make, and we will continue to monitor remdesivir’s success in clinical trials across the country to ensure the best results for UK patients.”

The Respiratory Clinical Trials Unit in Hull is one of the centres which runs a trial of remdesivir.

“As we navigate this unprecedented period, we must be on the front foot of the latest medical advancements, while always ensuring patient safety remains a top priority,” James Bethell,  junior health minister, said.

“We will continue to monitor remdesivir’s success in clinical trials across the country to ensure the best results for UK patients.”

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) said last week that data from its trial of remdesivir showed that the drug offers the most benefit for Covid-19 patients who need extra oxygen but do not require mechanical ventilation.

The researchers also said that “given high mortality despite the use of remdesivir,” it is likely that the drug would be more effective in combination with other treatments for Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

What are the side effects?

In a clinical trial of remdesivir by the drugs creators, Gilead, the most comment side effects were nausea and acute respiratory failure. 

High liver enzymes, which could indicate liver damage, occurred in 7.3 per cent of patients, and 3 per cent of patients stopped using the drug due to these elevated liver tests.

Which patients will it be given to?

Before now, doctors could not provide remdesivir to patients outside of trials as they did not have regulatory approval. 

The drugs regulator, the MHRA, has said it supports the use of remdesivir as the first medicine to treat coronavirus in the UK.

Dr June Raine, MHRA Chief Executive, said: “We are committed to ensuring that patients can have fast access to promising new treatments for Covid-19.

“We will continue to work closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and other healthcare partners on protecting public health in the UK by prioritising our essential work on clinical trials, access to medicines, and the development of vaccines.”

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