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Anti-viral drug will be made available to NI Covid patients

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Remdesivir is a drug that is currently undergoing clinical trials around the world, including the UK

Remdesivir is a drug that is currently undergoing clinical trials around the world, including the UK

POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Remdesivir is a drug that is currently undergoing clinical trials around the world, including the UK

Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed the announcement that the anti-viral drug Remdesivir will be available for the treatment of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

Remdesivir is a drug that is currently undergoing clinical trials around the world, including the UK.

International studies show the drug can shorten recovery time from Covid-19 by about four days.

It is not a vaccine.

Mr Swann said: "The news that patients in Northern Ireland will have access to Remdesivir through the Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) is a positive step in the fightback against Covid-19.

"It is only a few short months ago that we were first faced with this previously unknown virus. Amazing progress has been made in producing and delivering this anti-viral in a short timescale."

The drug will be available to patients who meet certain clinical criteria to support their recovery in hospital.

Trusts in Northern Ireland will be able to apply for access to the treatment for eligible patients.

Stormont Health committee chair and Sinn Fein MLA Colm Gildernew welcomed the availability of the drug, but reiterated the best defence against the virus was to follow public health guidelines and practice good hygiene.

"We are not yet out of the woods and yesterday (Monday) is testament to that with eight people sadly losing their battle with Covid-19.

"Remdesivir is not a vaccine, but an anti-viral drug that could assist some people with their recovery.

"The best defence remains adhering to social distancing and practicing good hygiene."

The Alliance health spokeswoman, Paula Bradshaw MLA, welcomed the announcement. "The speed at which everyone has rallied around the fight against this pandemic has been amazing," she said.

Mr Swann added: "Science has been at the forefront in these unprecedented times and it is through science that we will see breakthroughs in treatments for Covid-19.

"Patient safety will remain a priority and we will monitor the success of Remdesivir through the early access scheme and clinical trials to ensure the best results for all patients."

Belfast Telegraph