The US’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorised emergency use of the Ebola drug remdesivir for treating the coronavirus.
The authorisation means the anti-viral drug can now be used on people who are hospitalised with severe Covid-19.
A recent clinical trial showed the drug helped shorten the recovery time for people who were seriously ill.
However, it did not significantly improve survival rates.
Experts have warned the drug – which was originally developed to treat Ebola, and is produced by Gilead pharmaceutical company in California – should not be seen as a “magic bullet” for coronavirus.
The drug interferes with the virus’s genome, disrupting its ability to replicate.
During a meeting with US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, Gilead Chief Executive Daniel O’Day said the FDA authorisation was an important first step.
The company would donate 1.5 million vials of the drug, he said.
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn also said at the meeting: “It’s the first authorised therapy for Covid-19, so we’re really proud to be part of it.”
Emergency FDA authorisation is not the same as formal approval, which requires a higher level of review.