Japan has decided to expand the use of the antiviral drug remdesivir to moderately-ill coronavirus patients, in addition to those with more severe symptoms.
The country's health ministry gave fast-track approval for the drug to treat coronavirus patients last May. But it limited its use to patients on ventilators or ECMO heart-lung machines in principle.
The ministry says it has received additional clinical trial data from the drug's manufacturer, and confirmed its efficacy in patients other than those in the severest category.
Remdesivir will now be available for moderately-ill patients with pneumonia. But due to limited supplies in Japan, the drug will only be delivered to medical institutions that plan to use it for the severely-ill, at least for the time being.
The World Health Organization advised against administering remdesivir to hospitalized coronavirus patients last November. It said the drug has no important effect on mortality or time to clinical improvement.
But Japan's health ministry says the WHO guidelines do not affect its assessment of the medication.