Coronavirus Special Coverage

A collection of news posted throughout the week for those that want signal, not noise.

  • Previous coverage - all of our posts in this ongoing series.
  • Coronavirus status page - learn how to prepare for possible spread to your area. Scenarios, shopping lists, background info and everything else you need, all in one place.

Good news: Gilead is licensing remdesivir around the world

Remdesivir, the RNA polymerase inhibitor which received emergency use authorization from the US FDA after passing two randomized clinical trials for efficacy against COVID-19, will be available in more of the world due to a licensing deal between Gilead, the drug’s inventor, and five generic pharmaceutical companies in South Asia.

As we’ve reported since February, Gilead doesn’t have the capacity to manufacture remdesivir for the entire world’s COVID-19 needs right now. With this deal, Gilead agrees to allow five generic drug companies in India and Pakistan to manufacture remdesivir with Gilead’s assistance and distribute it to 127 lower and middle income countries, leaving Gilead to supply high income countries.

Does the licensing agreement mean we could get remdesivir soon?

It’s unclear how much this agreement will expand the global supply of remdesivir, or how soon. Gilead has estimated it could produce enough remdesivir to treat 280,000 patients by the end of May, a million patients by the end of October, and two million by the end of 2020.

The agreement is royalty-free, but only until the soonest of several events: the WHO declaring the pandemic over, the FDA approving a competing anti-COVID-19 antiviral, or the FDA approving a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Until then, generics companies won’t have to pay Gilead for rights to manufacture its patented drug. Gilead also announced it is working with the Medicines Patent Pool to extend licenses to even more generic drug companies.

The deal doesn’t include Chinese generics companies, some of whom have announced they are working on copying remdesivir. They still may obtain licenses, or make the drug without permission.

Now that we know remdesivir works against COVID-19, even if relatively subtly, every additional dose produced is a good thing.


    • ReadyPlayer

      Good news! And I dig the behind-the-scene info about how Gilead will take care of high income countries while the generic drugs companies in India and Pakistan will take care of lower and middle income countries. I find your posts always educational.

      9 |
    • Cia

      Relatively subtly. The two most recent studies in the NEJM and The Lancet showed that it does not reduce mortality, the most important thing. The NEJM found that it reduced the length of hospital stays from fifteen to eleven days, the Lancet study didn’t show any reduction. It costs a thousand dollars a dose, unlike hydroxychloroquine with zinc and azithromycin, which recent studies in Sao Paulo (Preserve Elders) and In France ( Dr. Didier Raoult) showed you be extremely effective in successfully treating Covid patients at pennies a dose. Will all patients be provided with this information and be allowed to choose for themselves?

      6 |
      • John Squires Cia

        Cynthia, you make good points.  There has been a huge disinformation campaign against hydroxychloroquine to paint it as an ineffective and dangerous drug.  Nobody wants an effective solution that only costs 10-cents a dose.  The UVA study of patient files at the VA showed higher deaths among patients who were given hydroxy…  what the “study” failed to mention was that the VA only gave hydroxy… as a last resort to men who were close to death.  Had they instead given Jello to those same patients, they could have concluded that those who ate Jello had a higher chance of death, therefore Jello is dangerous. Hydroxy… is an anti-viral drug which, if given in the early stages of Covid-19, has had a very high success rate in stopping the virus.  If you wait until the disease has caused pneumonia, scar tissue and blood clots, it has no effect.

        3 |
      • Cia John Squires

        Exactly. And a real campaign in which hundreds of media outlets all just repeated exactly the same words. HCQ causes heart arrhythmia and sudden cardiac arrest, without being able to cite when this had ever happened. In the ninety years since it started to be given to prevent and treat malaria, hundreds of millions of doses were given without one single report ever having been made of this effect. Dr. Raoult excluded two hundred people out of eight hundred in his latest study proving how effective HCQ was in treating Covid because they had heart conditions which might confound the results.


        That being said, sometimes HCQ HAS proven effective in treating Covid patients even when the disease has progressed, but it’s much more effective when given in the first five days of symptoms. But WITH zinc: HCQ is a zinc ionophore which enhances uptake of the life-saving zinc. They often refer to HCQ Plus now, with zinc. It’s safe, very cheap, and effective. But it would be difficult for the pharma industry to make a killing off of it. Not impossible, I’m sure.

        5 |
      • John Squires Cia

        Just to expand a bit on what you just wrote, HCQ by itself has very little direct effect on Covid19.  What HCQ does is attach to a cell wall and open a conduit that allows zinc into the cell (a zinc ionophore). Cell membranes block zinc because zinc interferes with RNA replication inside the cell.  The cell’s inner mechanisms do not distinguish the cell’s RNA from Covid19 RNA, so both are replicated and the virus multiplies.  HCQ gets zinc inside and inhibits RNA replication.  The VA did not give zinc to patients, plus they administered HCQ after organs were already damaged. Several countries have Covid19 hospital protocols that recommend HCQ as the first response to patients in the early stages of the disease.  Some countries advise starting with Quercetin, another cheap zinc ionophore.  Quercetin is available over the counter and on Amazon.  I take a small dose daily as a prophylactic, along with zinc, D3, C, selenium and a few other supplements.  This is all discussed on Medcram, a respected educational site for medical professionals. My doctor knows my daily regimen and I get checkups every three months.

        4 |
      • Cia John Squires

        Thank you, I just forwarded what you explained to a friend. Just the other day I sent him an article about quercetin being another zinc ionophore. I take quercetin and selenium every day for MS. I researched cytokine storms when I read about them in connection with Covid several months ago, and was surprised when I realized that they also occurred in MS attacks, in both cases the result of autoimmune reactions.

        I’ve also read that HCQ prevents the release of iron from the heme into the bloodstream, something it also does when treating malaria.

        4 |
      • Cia John Squires

        A friend sent me this list of HCQ Plus studies currently being done, mostly in Europe.

        6 |