Gilead Sciences headquarters sign is seen in Foster City, California on April 30, 2020. - Gilead Science's remdesivir, one of the most highly anticipated drugs being tested against the new coronavirus, showed positive results in a large-scale US government trial, the company said on April 29, 2020. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

INDIA’s government said on Tuesday (2) it has approved Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug remdesivir for emergency use in treating Covid-19 patients.

Remdesivir is the first drug to show improvement in Covid-19 patients in formal clinical trials. It was granted emergency use authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration last month and has received approval by Japanese health regulators.

“(Remdesivir) approved on June 1 under emergency use with condition for five dose administration,” the Drugs Controller General of India said in an email statement.

As of Tuesday, India has 198,706 cases of coronavirus and has recorded 5,598 deaths, health ministry data showed. The country reported 8,171 new Covid-19 cases and 204 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Gilead Sciences had on Monday (1) reported that remdesivir showed modest benefit in patients with moderate Covid-19 given a five-day course, while those who received it for 10 days in the study did not fare as well.

European and South Korean authorities are also looking at remdesivir, with South Korean health authorities last Friday saying they would request imports of the drug. Gilead is yet to gain regulatory approval in either market.

India is now seventh among the worst-hit nations by the Covid-19 pandemic after the US, Brazil, Russia, the UK, Spain and Italy.