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Outbreak of Covid 19 Delta: Government Signs Pre-Purchase Agreement for Covid-19 Treatment

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The Ministry of Health today announced 60 new community cases for Covid-19, along with updates on positive cases that passed through Northland and Hamilton’s MIQ changes.Video / NZ Herald

New Zealand has added another tool to the toolbox to fight Covid-19. It is one of the first countries in the world to sign a pre-purchase agreement for a new Covid-19 treatment.

Molnupiravir is an oral antiviral treatment and early trials have shown a significant reduction in hospitalization and mortality from Covid-19.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the agreement would secure an initial supply of 60,000 courses for Molnupiravir.

Merck says  drugs for people infected with COVID-19 have cut hospitalizations and deaths in half. Photo / Merck & Co via Associated Press.
Merck says drugs for people infected with COVID-19 have cut hospitalizations and deaths in half. Photo / Merck & Co via Associated Press.

She said it was important to have medicine to “help people infected with the virus so that they don’t have to go to the hospital.”

Ardan continues to use the stamp-it-out strategy, but she said the purchase was not a prerequisite.

“The purchase of this 60,000 course is based on the same population base as Australia, Singapore, etc. and is not an assumption about future Covid levels.”

Pharmac is negotiating a pre-purchase agreement and New Zealand will receive Molnupiravir once evaluated and approved by Medsafe.

According to pharmaceutical company Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, early results showed that patients who received molnupiravir within 5 days of detecting Covid’s symptoms had a dummy pill for hospitalization and mortality. It was about half of the patients who received it.

The study followed 775 adults with mild to moderate Covid-19 who are considered to be at high risk for severe illness due to health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The results have not been reviewed by outside experts, which is the usual procedure for reviewing new medical research.

7.3% of patients taking molnupiravir were hospitalized or died after 30 days, compared to 14.1% of patients taking dummy pills. After that period, there were no deaths among those who received the drug, compared to eight in the placebo group, according to Merck.

Molnupiravir can treat people with mild to moderate Covid-19, but Ardan still requires all New Zealanders to be vaccinated.

“This purchase ensures that molnupiravir is available to treat patients with mild to moderate Covid-19, but all New Zealanders can be vaccinated as the best defense against the virus. Try to get your life back with as few restrictions as possible, “she said.

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