Indonesia in talks to buy Merck's Covid-19 antiviral pill

Indonesia in talks to buy Merck's Covid-19 antiviral pill

Locals gather and take pictures as they welcome Indonesian President Joko Widodo during a visit to inspect a door to door mass vaccination programme against the coronavirus disease at a residential area in Tarakan, North Kalimantan province, on Tuesday. (Reuters photo)
Locals gather and take pictures as they welcome Indonesian President Joko Widodo during a visit to inspect a door to door mass vaccination programme against the coronavirus disease at a residential area in Tarakan, North Kalimantan province, on Tuesday. (Reuters photo)

JAKARTA: Indonesia is "finalising" a deal with Merck & Co to procure its experimental antiviral pills, named molnupiravir, to treat Covid-19 ailments, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Monday.

Results from a large clinical trial this month showed that the pill, made with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, cut hospitalisations and deaths by 50%. Merck asked for an emergency use clearance from the United States earlier this month.

The minister told a news conference that the deal is being finalised so that the first shipment of molnupiravir may come at the end of the year after a visit to the company in the United States.

"So that we have enough stock to withstand a potential next wave," he said, adding that Indonesia and Merck are in talks to build a production plant in Indonesia to produce raw material.

Budi did not say how many pills are being procured. Merck did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Merck has signed supply deals for the drug with Indonesia's neighbours Malaysia and Singapore, as well as Britain.

Indonesia was Asia's Covid-19 epicentre in July, largely fuelled by the virulent Delta variant, although cases and deaths have largely plummeted recently.

The government said on Monday it is anticipating a potential infection spike brought by the upcoming Christmas holidays.

Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (1)

Thai AirAsia dusts off idled jets to serve China

The budget carrier Thai AirAsia plans to resume operating eight aircraft that were idled during the pandemic and is considering shifting planes from other areas to cater to the growing number of visitors from China.

16:26

'macau888' bust

Police arrest a man linked to the macau888 online gambling site but the “four brothers” accused by a TV actress of operating the illegal business have reportedly fled.

16:01

China warns Philippines over US bases deal

China has asked the Philippines to avoid being "taken advantage of" by the United States after the Southeast Asian nation agreed to give US military forces access to four new bases.

15:28