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‘Merck, Pfizer Pills To Be Safe, Cheap’

Pfizer reported a 90 per cent reduction in severe disease and hospitalisation when used in high-risk persons with mild to moderate disease.
10 Nov 2021 11:46
‘Merck, Pfizer Pills To Be Safe, Cheap’
The first consignment of Pfizer vaccines for students between 12 and 14 years old students arrived into the country from New Zealand on Monday. The vaccines will be rolled out next week. Photo: New Zealand High Commission

The COVID-19 Merck and Pfizer pills, not only has to be safe but also cheap before it can be considered for procurement for Fijians.

In his recent update, Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong said much excitement had been generated in the media about the pills.

Based on a small trial, the Merck pill or Molnupiravir demonstrated up to 50 per cent capability in reducing severe disease and death in high-risk individuals. 

On the other hand, Pfizer reported a 90 per cent reduction in severe disease and hospitalisation when used in high-risk persons with mild to moderate disease.

Either pill can be taken over five days as part of home-based treatment.

“For Fiji, having access to therapeutic drugs like this would be ideal but we will need to educate people as it has to be used at the onset of mild to moderate disease when symptomatic self-care is appropriate and in settings where recognition of the severe disease is optimal,” Dr Fong said.

“The drug will need to be so cheap and so safe that it can be used widely in the community. 

“At the moment both drugs seem quite costly although we are aware of initiatives being taken to make Molnupiravir more affordable.”

He said there are safety concerns with the pills thus more details of the study and a peer-reviewed publication of the report is needed. 

“We are making preliminary explorations on how we can access stocks once it is more universally endorsed as they do represent a good home-based therapeutic option for high-risk individuals with mild to moderate disease.”

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj



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