Khairy says Malaysia to procure Merck Covid-19 pills after study finds decrease in deaths, hospitalisation

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Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin says Putrajaya is already negotiating to procure an experimental antiviral drug hailed as a breakthrough for Covid-19 treatment after a study showed the pills can cut deaths and hospitalisation rates by half. — Bernama pic
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin says Putrajaya is already negotiating to procure an experimental antiviral drug hailed as a breakthrough for Covid-19 treatment after a study showed the pills can cut deaths and hospitalisation rates by half. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 ― Putrajaya is already negotiating to procure an experimental antiviral drug hailed as a breakthrough for Covid-19 treatment after a study showed the pills can cut deaths and hospitalisation rates by half.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin made the announcement on Twitter this morning.

The pills, manufactured by the US-based Merck & Co, uses molnupiravir, which is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus, according to a Reuters report.

“As we transition to living with Covid we will be adding new, innovative treatment options to our arsenal in addition to vaccines,” Khairy tweeted.

“I have already started negotiating for Malaysia to procure these effective drugs that have gone through clinical trials,” he added.

Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics were reported saying that they plan to seek US authorisation for emergency use of the pill as soon as possible and to make regulatory applications worldwide.

Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, was quoted by newswire Reuters as saying that an oral antiviral that can impact hospitalisation risk to such a degree would be “game-changing.”

Khairy had previously said that public health authorities will now work towards living with Covid-19 as it expects the disease to be endemic, shifting away from the initial target of achieving herd immunity.

A total of 20,317,843 individuals or 86.8 per cent of the adult population in Malaysia have completed their Covid-19 vaccination as of yesterday, just 3.2 per cent more to achieve 90 per cent adult vaccination, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Health.

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