JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri is set to receive 4,000 vials of remdesivir to fight COVID-19 as part of a nationwide distribution from the company that makes it.
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams said Monday that the drug will be used to treat 600 people infected with the illness, which is caused by the novel coronavirus.
“We’re in the process of working with the hospital association to get remdesivir out to those patients,” Williams told reporters at Gov. Mike Parson’s daily briefing. “It’s been shown to significantly reduce their morbidity.”
The donation of the drug by California-based Gilead Sciences Inc. was announced by federal health officials Saturday. The U.S. received about 607,000 vials, representing about 40% of the global donation.
The anti-viral drug has shown promise in helping people with severe symptoms of COVID-19. It works by blocking an enzyme the virus uses to copy its genetic material.
No drugs are currently FDA-approved for treating COVID-19, and remdesivir will still need formal approval.
Williams said he is working to target patients who are on ventilators.
Patients can take a 5-day course or a 10-day course of the drug.
Illinois has already received its first shipment of remdesivir, state health director Dr. Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced during a Monday news briefing. The state received 140 cases over the weekend, about enough to treat 700 patients with COVID-19, Ezike said.
The vials area being sent to 14 hospitals across Illinois based on need.
Parson said Monday he spent the weekend with his extended family at his home in Polk County.
The governor is moving to reopen the economy, saying the state’s passed its peak in coronavirus cases on April 7.
“We remain confident in our recovery plan,” said Parson, who went to a Bolivar restaurant with his wife, Teresa, on Saturday.
The state is testing people in various hot spots across the state, Williams said.
At a meat processing facility in Milan, health officials are testing 1,500 workers. Mobile testing is also underway in St. Louis, where 400 tests were conducted in a parking lot on the city’s north side.