S.Korea authorises emergency use of Pfizer's oral coronavirus treatment

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FILE PHOTO: Pfizer's COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid, is manufactured and packaged

SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korea authorised for emergency use Pfizer's antiviral pills targeting COVID-19 as the first of its kind to be introduced in South Korea, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said on Monday.

South Korea restored tough distancing curbs last week after easing them in November, after a series of record daily new infections and serious cases stretched medical services, despite a vaccination rate of over 92% for those aged 18 or older.

Pfizer's oral antiviral treatment, called Paxlovid, is "expected to help prevent serious deterioration of patients admitted to residential treatment centers or being treated at home," by diversifying coronavirus treatments beyond injections currently used in the field, drug safety minister Kim Gang-lip told a press briefing.

The drug will be used for adults or children 12 years or older weighing over 40 kilograms with mild to moderate symptoms with a high risk of developing a severe case of coronavirus due to causes such as underlying diseases.

Another oral coronavirus treatment called molnupiravir, developed by Merck known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, applied for emergency use earlier this month, but the ministry is still reviewing as they need additional info on efficacy, Kim said.

(Reporting by Joyce LeeEditing by Shri Navaratnam and Michael Perry)

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