Govt defends Favipiravir supplies

Govt defends Favipiravir supplies

Surge in Covid cases prompts run on drug

The Department of Medical Services (DMS) has admitted that the department has struggled to supply sufficient numbers of Favipiravir pills for the treatment of Covid-19 patients to some areas after the recent surge in cases.

Dr Natthaphong Wongwiwat, deputy director-general of the DMS, said that Favipiravir is currently being both produced and imported by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) to meet demand, but the current spike and growing demand for the pills had stretched all available resources at present.

"However, distribution will return to normal after March 3 [Thursday] because many more pills will be added into the system," said Dr Natthaphong.

Dr Natthaphong also said that doctors may consider administering green chiretta (fah talai jone) to patients with mild symptoms or who are asymptomatic in lieu of Favipiravir.

Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health, maintained that stock remains sufficient to handle the current case rate.

Early protection: A student gets a Covid-19 jab at Rittiyawannalai School in Sai Mai district of Bangkok. Children between the ages of 5-11 are now eligible for a vaccine, with inoculations starting with older students yesterday. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)

He insisted that there are currently 24 million Favipiravir pills being reserved by the GPO, and 60 million more being produced, meaning the GPO will have a total of 84 million pills to be distributed to GPO service units across the country.

The GPO's rebuttals came after the Rural Doctor Society (RDS) posted on its Facebook page over the weekend that several hospitals in the country are facing shortages.

Meanwhile, Nakhon Ratchasima is rushing to secure more beds for those suffering from more severe cases of Covid-19 as numbers continue to rise, a source within the provincial administration told the Bangkok Post.

On Monday, the province logged 879 new cases, while 7,441 are still being treated. Due to the increased number of infections, state and privately run hospitals, field hospitals and community isolation centres must accommodate more patients.

The province has also set up another reserve field hospital at a meeting hall at His Majesty the King's 80th Birthday Anniversary Stadium in Muang district with 200 beds in case the remaining 150-bed field hospital at Liptapanlop Hall can't cope.

The province has so far provided 8,019 beds of which 3,798 are currently occupied. However, 213 of the 282 beds provided for severe cases are now taken and of the 2,256 beds reserved for moderate cases, only 522 remain free.

In Songkhla, provincial governor Jessada Jitrat has announced that only those who have received a third booster shot of Covid-19 vaccine will be allowed to enter and exit the province from April 1 onwards.

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