CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan's remdesivir stockpile contains 333 doses: CECC

07/03/2020 07:11 PM
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File photo courtesy of Gilead
File photo courtesy of Gilead

Taipei, July 3 (CNA) Taiwan currently has a stockpile of over 300 doses of the new coronavirus COVID-19 medication remdesivir, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Friday.

The 333 doses, which can treat about 55 patients, came from an initial inventory of 255 the country kept after participating in clinical trials for the drug, while acquiring another 78 at a later date, said CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) at a press briefing.

The information was provided in the wake of global concerns over supply of the broad-spectrum antiviral medication, developed by American-based biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, Inc.

Countries around the world are concerned after the United States health department announced Tuesday it had bought 500,000 doses, which equates to three months of production.

It is believed remdesivir can cut recovery times and it has received emergency use authorization and special approval for emergencies in the U.S. and Japan, respectively.

Taiwan approved remdesivir for severely ill patients at the end of May. At that time, Wu Shou-mei (吳秀梅), director-general of Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said the country planned to order doses for 1,000 patients, with the order expected to arrive late July.

The move was to ensure the availability of enough medication for severely ill patients in the event of a second wave of infections, Wu said. However, the status of those plans is now unclear.

Even though Taiwan currently has no severely ill patients, efforts will continue to seek further purchases from remdesivir's manufacturer, Chuang said.

Furthermore, there are other medications that can be used instead of remdesivir, Chuang added.

To date, Taiwan has recorded a total of 449 cases of COVID-19. A total of 358 are classified as imported, with 55 believed to be local infections, according to CECC statistics.

The other 36 cases are from a cluster infection that occurred aboard a Navy vessel that was on a goodwill mission in the Pacific in March, since confirmed by the CECC as originating in Taiwan.

(By Chen Wei-ting and William Yen)

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