The antiviral drug Remdesivir has received provisional approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration but Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth says there is no evidence it prevents coronavirus death or infection.
The Australian government will seek to buy more supplies of the antiviral drug Remdesivir after the treatment was given provisional approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
The decision to green-light the drug follows a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in Victoria.
Manufactured by US company Gilead Sciences, Remdesivir is one of the more promising treatments to reduce hospitalisation time for those suffering from severe coronavirus infections.
“In light of what's going on in Victoria, we will seek to procure more remedies from Gilead,” Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth said on Saturday.
Remdesivir has been shown to improve the recovery time of the most seriously ill COVID-19 patients but it does not relieve milder cases, nor does it prevent coronavirus infection or death.
So far, none of the international trials have delivered conclusive results it is effective on all patients treated.
“The important thing to note about any of these medications, of course, is that none of them as yet are a silver bullet,” Dr Coatsworth said.
The intravenous drug will be available only to patients who are severely unwell, require oxygen or high-level support to breathe, and are in hospital care.
Australia is one of the first countries to approve the use of the drug after the European Union, Japan, and Singapore.
In June, the United States government moved to secure near-exclusive access to the drug until October.
But Dr Coatsworth is confident the national medical stockpile has adequate supplies to meet the demand of patients in Victoria.
The powerful steroid Dexamethasone is also being used in Australian hospitals as a treatment for coronavirus sufferers.
Dr Coatsworth said he was hopeful for a vaccine, but that one was likely to be 18 to 24 months away so we "need to prepare ourselves for a world without a vaccine".
Sydney pub cluster spreads
As Victoria recorded another day of more then 200 cases, a new COVID-19 cluster has emerged in New South Wales.
Five cases are now linked to The Crossroads Hotel in Casula after NSW Health on Saturday confirmed a male patron had passed the virus to household contacts.
Those three contacts tested positive late on Friday and are also isolating in the Blue Mountains.
The patron's visit to the pub on the evening of 3 July is the only known link between him and a southwestern Sydney woman, who tested positive earlier this week.
“It's a timely reminder that COVID-19 spreads in situations of close contact,” Dr Coatsworth said.
Anyone who attended the hotel last Friday is now being asked to self-isolate and come forward for testing immediately if they develop even the mildest symptoms.
The pub is closed for deep-cleaning while a makeshift testing clinic operates in its car park.
Major hospitals in the area have also extended opening hours for their coronavirus testing clinics.
"We are at a critical point on the fight to contain the COVID-19," a NSW Health spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday.
"It is absolutely essential the community works together to limit the spread of the virus, by always maintaining good hand hygiene, adhering to physical distancing rules whenever possible and getting tested whenever symptoms occur, however mild."
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.
Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.
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