GENEVA (Reuters) – A top World Health Organization official declined comment on Wednesday on reports that Gilead Science’s remdesivir could help treat COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, but said that further data was needed.

“I wouldn’t like to make any specific comment on that, because I haven’t read those publications in detail,” Dr Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies programme, told an online briefing in response to a question, adding it can sometimes take a number of publications to determine a drug’s efficacy.

“Clearly we have the randomised control trials that are underway both in the UK and US, the ‘Solidarity trials’ with WHO. Remdesivir is one of the drugs under observation in many of those trials. So I think a lot more data will come out,” he said.

Ryan added: “But we are hopeful this drug and others may prove to be helpful in treating COVID-19.”

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay anad Emma Farge, Writing by Michael Shields)

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