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Coronavirus Update – Gilead Sciences Statement, Remdesivir

The number of deaths from the epidemic has jumped to over 700, surpassing the toll from the SARS outbreak on mainland China and Hong Kong almost two decades ago.

In its daily update, the China’s national health commission also confirmed another 3,399 new cases. There are now more than 31,774 confirmed infections in the country.

The new virus is in the coronavirus family that includes Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. It causes fever, cough, shortness of breath and, in severe cases, pneumonia.

China finished building a second new hospital Thursday to isolate and treat patients — a 1,500-bed center in Wuhan. Earlier this week, another rapidly constructed, 1,000-bed hospital in Wuhan with prefabricated wards and isolation rooms began taking patients.

All together, more than 50 million people are under virtual quarantine in hard-hit Hubei province in an unprecedented — and unproven — bid to bring the outbreak under control.

China’s official news agency said Friday that President Xi Jinping urged the US to “respond reasonably” to the virus outbreak in a phone call with US President Donald Trump.

Beijing has complained that the US was flying its citizens out of Wuhan but not providing any assistance to China.

Testing of a new antiviral drug was began on a group of patients Thursday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The drug, Remdesivir, is made by US biotech company Gilead Sciences.

”Remdesivir has demonstrated in vitro and in vivo activity in animal models against the viral pathogens MERS and SARS, which are coronaviruses that are structurally similar to 2019-nCoV. There are also limited clinical data available from the emergency use of Remdesivir in the treatment of patients with Ebola virus infection.”