• Thursday, Jun 30, 2022
  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

Malaysia buys 150,000 courses of Merck's Covid pill

  • Published at 03:46 pm October 7th, 2021
An experimental COVID-19 treatment pill called molnupiravir being developed by Merck & Co Inc
File Photo: An experimental Covid-19 treatment pill called molnupiravir being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, is seen in this undated handout photo released by Merck & Co Inc and obtained by Reuters May 17, 2021. Reuters

South Korea announcing similar deals to buy the Merck pill this week

Malaysia has struck a deal with US drug maker Merck & Co to buy 150,000 courses of its experimental antiviral pill, the health ministry said on Thursday, joining other Asian countries in a rush to secure supplies.

Molnupiravir, which would be the first oral antiviral medication for Covid-19 if it gets regulatory approval, could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalized for those most at risk of contracting severe Covid-19, clinical data has shown.

The data sparked large demand for the drug in Asia, with South Korea announcing similar deals to buy the Merck pill this week. Taiwan and Thailand are also in talks to buy it.

Malaysia's Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the government signed a letter of undertaking for the purchase on Thursday.

"This decision was made as we prepare to transition into an endemic phase, where we can co-exist with the virus by adding new innovative treatments as 'weapons' to fight Covid-19, apart from vaccinations and other public health measures," Khairy said in a statement.

Malaysia has recorded nearly 2.3 million Covid-19 infections, the third-highest in Southeast Asia, but has gradually lifted movement restrictions in recent weeks as the number of new cases declined amid a ramped-up vaccination program.

About 64% of Malaysia's 32 million population are now fully vaccinated, including 88% of adults.

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