US authorises remdesivir as emergency treatment for Covid-19

WASHINGTON: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted authorisation to Gilead Sciences for emergency use of its experimental antiviral drug remdesivir to treat patients with Covid-19, it said in a letter to Gilead.

During a meeting in the Oval Office with President Donald Trump, Gilead Chief Executive Daniel O’Day called the move an important first step and said the company was donating one million vials of the drug to help patients.

Gilead said on Wednesday the drug had helped improve outcomes for patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and provided data suggesting it worked better when given earlier in the course of infection.

The closely watched drug has moved financial markets in recent weeks, following the release of several studies that painted a mixed picture of its effectiveness.

Vice President Mike Pence said the one million vials would start being distributed to hospitals on Monday.

Businesses reopen in Georgia

Nearly every business in Georgia was free to reopen on Friday after being shut for weeks, in a move closely watched by the US government and other states to see if the lifting of restrictions triggers a spike in coronavirus deaths.

With about half of US states edging towards the partial lifting of shutdowns that had aimed to curb the pandemic, Georgia was trying to get back to business ahead of the others.

Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, decided against extending Georgia’s month-long shelter-in-place orders this week, enabling a full gamut of businesses to open. He approved the reopening of hair salons, gyms and other service businesses last Friday, followed by movie theatres and restaurants on Monday.

By contrast, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday all state schools including colleges would remain closed for the remainder of the academic year due to the pandemic. The coronavirus has hit New York especially hard, making it the world epicenter for the COVID-19 disease.

With stores shut, Americans are relying more heavily on home deliveries of everything from food to clothes and office equipment, giving online retailers like Inc a heavy workload.

Some workers at Amazon, Target Corp and Instacart Inc were staging protests and sick-outs in New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon and other states on Friday to demand a safer work environment and better pay during the outbreak.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and an adviser to President Donald Trump, said on Thursday he was concerned about states and communities reopening ahead of a timeline recommended by the White House.

But Georgia’s rush to get back to work was applauded by Michael Bowers, 55, who co-owns Bowers Watch & Clock Repair in Atlanta’s tony Buckhead neighborhood.

“We need to reopen,” he said of the business his grandfather started in the 1940s.

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