Govt eyes purchasing Covid pills

Govt eyes purchasing Covid pills

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Thursday approved a plan to buy 50,000 courses of molnupiravir pills -- the world's first oral medication to treat Covid-19.

The plan, submitted by the Public Health Ministry, next will be presented to the cabinet to consider a budget allocation, CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said after a CCSA meeting.

Since Merck & Co announced its development of molnupiravir, countries have been scrambling to secure their supply of the drug.

Australia, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan are just some of the countries looking to purchase the treatment.

The Philippines, meanwhile, has agreed to run a domestic trial of the drug in the hope of getting more favourable procurement terms with the company.

The experimental antiviral pill is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the Covid-19 virus.

Interim clinical trials indicated it could reduce by around half the chance of hospitalisation or death for patients at risk of severe symptoms from Covid-19.

It could effectively treat all strains, the studies concluded.

Merck is expecting to produce 10 million molnupiravir courses by the end of this year.

Dr Taweesilp said the meeting also acknowledged a plan to procure another 127 million Covid-19 vaccine doses before the end of the year, with another 62.5 million doses of alternative vaccines from Moderna and Sinopharm.

A target has been set to administer vaccines to at least 50% of Thais by the end of this month, the spokesman said.

Last week the Department of Medical Services said a draft agreement to buy molnupiravir pills was to be scrutinised by the government's legal body.

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