There’s not nearly enough remdesivir, the drug that fights coronavirus, for all who need it

Coronavirus-fighting drug Remdesivir in short supply

(CNN) - As the coronavirus pandemic continues, a vaccine is likely still a long way away.

Remdesivir, the only drug that so far has shown some promise as a treatment for severe coronavirus patients, is in short supply.

It may be the most sought-after drugs on our pandemic-ridden planet: remdesivir, the only drug shown to work against coronavirus and be authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The state of California, in guidance to hospitals, said that they can consider having a lottery to decide which patients will get it because there’s not nearly enough remdesivir to go around.

Take San Francisco, for example. They have around 70 patients in the hospital with confirmed coronavirus infections but were so far only allocated enough remdesivir for about four patients - for the entire city.

“Having such limited supplies is challenging,” said Dr. Annie Luetkemeyer, an infectious disease specialist at Zuckerberg San Francisco general hospital.

She knows she will have to tell some patients no.

“It’s not what we all went into medicine to do. We would like to be able to provide remdesivir for everyone in whom we think it would benefit, and we’re clearly just not in that place yet. And that part is really heartbreaking.” Luetkemeyer said. “We understand that some really difficult decisions are going to have to be made.”

It’s not just in San Francisco. In Texas, for example, they have nearly 1,700 coronavirus patients in the hospital, but the state was allotted only enough remdesivir for about 155 patients.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hasn’t explained how they decided how much remdesivir to send to each state or why some places got it before others, and that spurred this letter Wednesday from two members of Congress, asking for an explanation.

“I’m concerned that we’re not getting this drug that’s the first ray of hope in treating coronavirus to the right places at the right time,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas.

He’s asked for transparency in how the federal government is rationing the limited supply of the only drug known to help patients with COVID-19.

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