søndag 17. oktober 2021

Countries in Asia are placing orders for a new drug to treat coronavirus. Poorer nations could miss out again

During the global scramble to secure vaccines, many countries in Asia-Pacific were slow off the mark. This time, they're not making the same mistake. Countries around the region are rushing to place orders for the latest weapon against Covid-19: an antiviral pill that isn't even authorized for use yet.

Molnupiravir -- produced by US pharmaceutical company Merck -- is being heralded as a potential pandemic game changer, especially for those unable to get vaccinated. Merck is seeking US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization for the drug -- and if it's granted, the capsule will become the first oral antiviral treatment against Covid-19.

Already, at least eight countries or territories in the Asia-Pacific region have signed deals or are in talks to procure the drug, according to analytics company Airfinity, including New Zealand, Australiaand South Korea, all of which were relatively slow to start their vaccine programs. Experts say while the pill looks promising, they worry some people will use it as an alternative to vaccines, which still offer the best protection.