The coronavirus pandemic has caused nearly 130,000 deaths across the United States over the past four months, spurring President Donald Trump to secure control over a three-month global stock of drug Remdesivir. Boris Johnson has now been warned the UK has “little or no access” to the drug which has been hailed as a key component of the recovery of COVID-19 patients. But Dr Andrew Hill from Liverpool University said further confrontations with the US could arise once a vaccine is discovered.
Speaking to Sky News, Dr Hill said: “This is the kind of issue we’re going to have to face up to. You think of this at the moment for a treatment.
“What if we have a vaccine? What if a vaccine is then restricted to the US only. There was a threat of that through a company called Sanofi in France that was going to provide most of their supplies to the United States.
“This is a taste of things to come, it could get worse. We have to decide whether we want to be strong with the US or people with COVID-19 suffer, recover more slowly and potentially die faster.”
California biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences sold over 500,000 treatment courses to the US, providing President Trump with drugs for COVID-19 patients until September.
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Dr Hill suggested the UK could still bypass the obstacle the US created by issuing a so-called compulsory licence which would allow the Government to buy the drug from abroad.
He continued: “There’s a way around this. We have to break the pattern but it’s a very controversial thing to do.
“After 9/11, the US had a problem with anthrax being sent to media and to politicians, they put in a compulsory licence allowing the Government to access generic drugs from abroad to treat anthrax.
“We could do the same thing in the UK, we could issue what’s called a compulsory licence and we could bring in the drug from India, from Bangladesh, from other countries where it’s being made.”
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