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SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Wednesday began providing remdesivir, an experimental drug conventionally used for Ebola, as a treatment drug for the novel coronavirus.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said the medication developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences Inc. will be used for COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms.
Coronavirus patients with symptoms of pneumonia who need oxygen treatment such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) will be administered the drug.
The KCDC said it signed an agreement with Gilead Sciences, with details of the imported amount and price not to be disclosed.
"Health authorities will make utmost efforts to secure the treatment by cooperating with Gilead Science Korea, a local importer, to secure additional amounts of remdesivir," KCDC chief Jeong Eun-kyeong said in a press release.
Last month, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, South Korea's drug safety watchdog, approved the use of remdesivir as a treatment drug for COVID-19, allowing special imports by using its special measures procedure.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a report saying that COVID-19 patients who received remdesivir recovered faster than similar patients who received a placebo.
The trial study, the first clinical trial launched in the United States to evaluate an experimental treatment for COVID-19, was conducted on a total of 1,063 patients.
Preliminary results indicate that patients who received remdesivir had a 31 percent faster recovery time than those who received a placebo, according to the NIH.