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COVID-19: Health Minister reveals NCDC uses Remdesivir on patients

The health minister Osagie Ehanire on Tuesday, May 5; revealed that Nigeria has started using Remdesivir, an anti-retroviral drug, in managing COVID-19 patients.

“We have been using that (Remdesivir); we have tried that in Lagos too on COVID-19 patients,” Ehanire said while addressing members of the House of Representatives.

“So, we have tried the antiretroviral drug to see what effect it has.”

The minister said the drug, originally developed as a potential treatment for Ebola, is one of the options which Nigeria has adopted in treating COVID-19 patients.

Remdesivir, produced by Gilead pharmaceutical company; only interferes with the virus’s genome, disrupting its ability to replicate.

A recent clinical trial showed the drug helped shorten the recovery time for people who were seriously ill, BBC reported.

However, it did not significantly improve survival rates.

It also suggests a 10-day dosing duration for patients on ventilators and five days for patients who are not.

Gilead in a blog post on its website in April said the drug has not yet licensed or approved anywhere globally; and has not yet been demonstrated to be safe or effective for the treatment of COVID-19.

But the US’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorised the emergency use of the drug Remdesivir for treating the coronavirus.

The emergency FDA authorisation is not the same as formal approval; which requires a higher level of review.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Tuesday, May 5; stated that the controversial Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020 being debated on the floor of the House of Representatives will be put to a public hearing.

Gbajabiamila made this assertion during Tuesday’s plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

However, he disagreed with those who condemned the timing of the bill; insisting that it was appropriate to enact such a bill at this time.

Gbajabiamila made the remarks against the backdrop of the controversies that have trailed the bill; following its speedy passage through the first and second readings on Tuesday last week.

The Speaker bemoaned the “barrage of criticisms and accusations; including allegations that the proposed Bill is a product of inducement by foreign interests.

“The Bill, which is still a proposal subject to consideration; amendment and improvement have been assailed as a sinister attempt to turn Nigerians into guinea pigs for medical research; while taking away their fundamental human rights.”

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