As we reported earlier, the news came out overnight that the U.S. has purchased all of the drug’s remdesive supplies for the next three months. The drug has shown some promise to help Covid-19 patients recover faster from Covid-19, and is manufactured by American pharmaceutical giant Gilead.
The UK’s Guardian Health Reporter Sarah Boseley wrote that experts and campaigns are alarmed by both the unilateral US action on remdesivir and the wider implications, for example if the vaccine becomes available. The Trump administration has already shown that it is ready to overcome and surpass all other countries to provide the medical supplies it needs for the US.
The Guardian Australia has asked federal health minister Greg Hunt about whether he is worried about buying U.S. supplies, and whether Australia has enough medicine in its national medical stock to manage in the meantime. A spokesman said he would give an answer this afternoon.
Associate Professor Alice Motion from the School of Chemistry University of Sydney, which works as part of open source drug discovery projects, including Good breakcivic scientific project. She said US actions are a real concern.
We would like to make sure that such a thing is not possible for a vaccine, said associate professor Motion.
A vaccine should be available to people around the world rather than a country, or a group of countries that have preferred access to a drug. Remdesivir is a drug that helps people recover faster, but imagine if the same thing happened with a vaccine that comes out. That would be terrible. It is also a risk because many different medicines we need around the world are not made in places where patients live. If you start buying all the supplies of a medicine, you may see other countries that may not be as willing to distribute or distribute medicines to the US.
She said US actions raised fundamental issues regarding the right and equal access to medicine. The next issue is whether everyone in the US will now have equal access to remdesivir, she said. Equal access is not just a global issue, but within countries.
Professor Peter Collignon, an infectious disease doctor with the Australian National University, said similar issues were seen early in the pandemic with access to personal protective equipment, with countries continuing to supply while other countries have struggled to obtain protective equipment.
Many countries give priority to themselves, he said. Of course, I disagree with him. It is not a good practice and we need arts and behavioral experts to look at this and this attitude.
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