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.
In its clinical trial, whose full results are yet to be released, the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) found that remdesivir cut the duration of symptoms from 15 days down to 11.
However, although remdesivir may aid recovery – and possibly stop people having to be treated in intensive care – the trials did not give any clear indication whether it can prevent deaths from coronavirus.
As much remains uncertain about the treatment regime, Gilead suggests a 10-day dosing duration for patients on ventilators and five days for patients who are not.