Remdesivir- the antiviral that's been authorized in dozens of countries around the world to treat COVID-19,
has been shunned by a World Health Organization-led program to supply COVID-19 drugs to poor countries.
The WHO draft document, seen by Reuters and dated Oct. 30, says the priorities are to secure what are called "monoclonal antibodies" -- that is manufactured copies of the antibodies human bodies create to fight infections.
They're looking to secure these in a tight market, and also to boost purchases and distribution of cheap steroid dexamethasone-
which it has already booked nearly 3 million courses of treatment for poorer countries.
The paper does not list remdesivir among priority drugs - which is a significant omission as it's the only other medication alongside dexamethasone approved across the world for treating COVID-19.
Remdesivir's developer- Gilead, said the WHO scheme had not funded its COVID-19 trials and had never approached the firm for the possible inclusion of the drug in its portfolio.
The drug-supply scheme is co-led by the Wellcome Trust charity and Unitaid, a health partnership hosted by the WHO.
Unitaid confirmed the scheme had not procured or funded remdesivir and it did not comment on whether it may buy the drug in future or why it did not appear among priority treatments.
Despite its use, preliminary findings of a major WHO-sponsored trial revealed in October that the antiviral had little or no benefit for COVID-19 patients.
The program urgently needs $6.1 billion- $750 million of that by February.