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Media Release

Taskforce issues first recommendation for drug treatment for COVID-19

05 June, 2020
Remdesivir vial

The National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce today gave a conditional recommendation for use of remdesivir in treatment of people with COVID-19.

The Taskforce is comprised of 28 peak health professional bodies whose members are caring for people with COVID-19 and the recommendation is as follows:

Whenever possible remdesivir should be administered in the context of a randomised trial with appropriate ethical approval. Use of remdesivir for adults with moderate, severe or critical COVID-19 outside of a trial setting may be considered.


Antiviral drug remdesivir is the first medication to be recommended as a considered treatment for hospitalised patients with COVID-19.

Originally developed for the treatment of Ebola, clinical trials show remdesivir may decrease time to recovery in people with moderate, severe or critical COVID-19.

Taskforce Executive Director, Associate Professor Julian Elliott said while it’s early days it is a significant step forward.

“This is the first information we have that a drug has a beneficial effect as a treatment for COVID-19. The preliminary data published so far from two clinical trials indicate that it can reduce the time for someone to recover from COVID-19. However, we do not yet have definitive information that remdesivir will reduce the risk of dying from the disease.

“Normally the development of clinical recommendations can take many months but the Taskforce has established processes for the rapid review of evidence using robust methods, enabling the development of this evidence-based recommendation in less than two weeks,” Associate Professor Elliott said.

The Taskforce evidence teams reviewed the preliminary results of a high profile remdesivir trial published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, adding these data to another remdesivir trial published earlier this month in The Lancet.

“There are now 10 registered trials on the use of Remdesivir in the treatment of COVID-19.

The Taskforce looks forward to reviewing more evidence as it is published and updating our guidelines so Australian clinicians can have the support they need to provide the best possible care,” Associate Professor Elliott added.

Remdesivir is not licensed for use in Australia, but the Commonwealth Government has approved exemptions to some aspects of the Therapeutic Goods Act to allow the drug to be accessed in the context of clinical trials and for compassionate use. The Taskforce understands that there is sufficient supply of remdesivir in Australia to meet current expected demand.

The latest weekly guidelines can be viewed here.