Three asylum seekers at camp near US border test positive for coronavirus; UN asks for nearly $10bn in aid for Syria; Greece faces ‘huge difficulties’ when flights resume. Follow the latest updates
- Fauci says new US coronavirus cases could hit 100,000 a day
- US buys up world stock of key Covid-19 drug remdesivir
- Jacinda Ardern decries ‘dangerous’ calls to reopen New Zealand borders
- World map: which countries have the most cases and deaths?
Panama registered 765 new cases of coronavirus infection on Tuesday, taking the total number in the country to 33,550, while deaths climbed by 11 to 631 overall, the health ministry said in a statement.
More on remdesivir now from Australia:
Associate Professor Barbara Mintzes from The University of Sydney Charles Perkins Centre and School of Pharmacy said if remdesivir does prove effective in treating Covid-19, the drug would be needed not only in the US but globally, including in Australia.
“The US arrangement to buy 500,000 doses of remdesivir from Gilead raises concerns not only about access in other countries but also how to prevent profiteering from the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuring that patients who need treatment are able to access it,” she said. “Gilead announced its global price for remdesivir on June 29 as US $390 per vial. The Guardian reports that the cost will be US$3200 for a 6-day treatment, or AUD$4607. The cost of production of remdesivir has been estimated to be less than US$1 per day or US $6 (AUD$ 8.64) for a 6-day course of treatment.
“Gilead has licensing agreements with manufacturers in Egypt, India and Pakistan to supply remdesivir to 127 low to middle-income countries. The US deal with Gilead and limits on which countries can be supplied under this licensing agreement leave countries like Australia in the lurch: unable to access remdesivir from Gilead at a high price – as the US is doing – and unable to access it at a low price from generic manufacturers, as lower income countries can.”
As for a solution, Mintzes said international trade agreements in a public health emergency, governments can issue compulsory licenses to bypass patent protection and either produce a drug themselves or buy the drug from generic manufacturers. The Netherlands is currently considering an amendment to its patent law to allow compulsory licensing of remdesivir. “Currently we don’t know for sure whether remdesivir will prove to be an important treatment for Covid-19,” she said. “If it does, given that the US is buying out Gilead’s supply, and also given the extremely high price as compared with costs of production, the obvious solution for Australia would be to also consider compulsory licensing.”