An antiviral medication originally used to help treat Ebola has been approved by Health Canada for the treatment of COVID-19.
Health Canada announced earlier this week that it has officially authorised the distribution of a drug that helps treat coronavirus patients with severe symptoms.
Called remdesivir, the treatment was originally formulated to help treat Ebola.
According to CTV News, the drug “has also been granted emergency or conditional authorization in the United States, Europe, Japan, Singapore and Australia.”
“This is a medication that works to inhibit the virus itself; many of the other therapeutics we’ve seen used or attempted for use in the treatment of COVID related disease have been around the immune system," Infectious disease expert Dr Lisa Barrett of Dalhousie University in Halifax said.
"However, this one is designed to directly inhibit the virus itself, and has been used or tested for use in other viral infections previously.”
Results released in May from a major study in the US suggested that remdesivir could shorten COVID-19 recovery time.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) tested the antiviral medication on 1,063 COVID-19 patients sick enough to be hospitalised. Officials said recovery in patients using the drug was shortened by 31 per cent – 11 days on average versus 15 days for those just given usual care.
Remdesivir is recommended for use in people over the age of 12 with severe symptoms and weigh at least 40 kilograms (approximately 88 pounds).
Health Canada has “completed an expedited six-week review of remdesivir and determined that the drug’s benefits outweigh its risks when used against symptoms of COVID-19.”
The government department has stated that the treatment will only be used in healthcare facilities and can only be given through an IV.