US drugmaker Gilead Sciences will be sending 100,000 vials of Remdesivir to India by May 5. This will be part of 4,50,000 vials the company said it would donate to India to help the country tide over a severe shortage of the critical antiviral drug, which is used to treat moderate to severe Covid in patients.
The remaining vials will be dispatched to India from the US in the coming weeks. Gilead has collected unused Remdesivir vials from across the US to this end.
The marketing authorisation for Gilead’s Remdesivir in India is with its local partner KlinEra Global Services, which will import the drug. The Central government will then allot the drug to different States, based on demand.
The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) earlier this week issued a license for the import.
Moneycontrol is the first to break the story of Gilead sending Remdesivir to India.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The dispatch of the antiviral drug to India is seen as a part of the Biden administration’s plan to support the Government of India and Indian health care workers as they battle the country’s worst health crisis since Independence.
Sources told Moneycontrol that the donations will be an interim arrangement from Gilead, before six Indian generic companies and Mylan, which have manufacturing licenses, start pumping supplies into the market.
India has been reporting more than 3.8 lakh new cases and around 3,500 deaths daily due to Covid-19.
A patient needs about five injections of Remdesivir, which helps in faster clearance of the virus.