Kyabram Free Press

ANTI-COVID drug on the way

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An antiviral pill showing promising signs of slashing COVID-19 deaths and hospitalis­ations is set to be available in Australia next year pending regulatory approval.

Health Minister Greg Hunt anticipate­s molnupirav­ir, being trialled in the US, could be rolled out in Australia as early as the first quarter of 2022.

Manufactur­er Merck has been invited to apply to have the antiviral drug approved for use by the Therapeuti­c Goods Administra­tion.

“An oral pill is obviously a much easier means of helping people,” Mr Hunt said on Monday.

“These would be made available on the basis of need right across the country.

“We’re in advanced discussion­s with a variety of different (drug) makers.

“The drug company earlier announced trial results showing the treatment reduced hospitalis­ations and deaths by around 50 per cent.”

Meanwhile, Australia has received 15,000 additional doses of the antibody treatment sotrovimab, which is used to stop the virus replicatin­g.

The national stockpile of the drug, administer­ed by intravenou­s infusion within five days of patients developing symptoms, is expected to exceed 30,000 doses this year.

It has been shown to reduce hospitalis­ation or death in patients with mild or moderate infections and who are at high risk of severe illness.

“It helps activate the body and its immune system to fight against COVID,” the health minister said.

“In many cases it will mean the difference between hospitalis­ation or no hospitalis­ation, ICU or no ICU, and in some cases it will prevent the loss of life.”

While vaccines remain the first port of call for beating coronaviru­s, University of South Australia epidemiolo­gist Adrian Esterman has emphasised the importance of finding new treatments.

“There has been not much emphasis placed on research into treatment since the start of this pandemic,” Prof Esterman said.

“Even with 100 per cent of the population fully vaccinated, there will still be virus circulatin­g because none of the vaccines is 100 per cent effective against transmissi­on.

“At the same time, ensuring the world is vaccinated will drasticall­y reduce the severity of the disease.”

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