Earlier this month, India banned the export of the drug and the active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) used to make it.
Seven Indian companies have licensed the drug from Gilead, with an installed capacity of about 3.9 million units per month. Gilead said that all of them were scaling up their batch sizes and adding new manufacturing facilities and local contract manufacturers. Doubts have been expressed about the drug's effectiveness in treating COVID-19. The World Health Organization last November issued a conditional recommendation against the use of remdesivir in hospitalised patients, but India has continued to use it. A senior Indian government health official said last week that remdesivir is only for those patients who need oxygen. "I am appealing that the hype over this medicine should be decreased, and it should be used in a rational manner," Vinod Kumar Paul said.
The government has, in the meanwhile, issued instructions to the armed forces to step in to help tackle the surge. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said that oxygen would be released from armed forces reserves and retired medical personnel would join struggling health facilities. Local corporates like the Tata Group, Reliance Industries Ltd and Jindal Steel and Power, have stepped forward to help supply medical oxygen.
India plans to open up vaccination to all adults from May 1.