Antiviral pill: Bright spot in pandemic fight

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

KUCHING: The procurement of the experimental antiviral pill by US drug maker Merck may be a bright spot in the fight against Covid-19.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said, if it goes well, it will be able to help the nation move towards the endemic phase.

“Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin yesterday (Oct 7) issued a statement that Malaysia had signed a letter of commitment for the purchase of the antiviral drug Molnupiravir with Merck Sharp & Dohme.

“This is part of the preparation to begin the transition to the endemic phase. Hopefully this step is a bright spot for us to move on to the next phase,” he said in a Facebook post on Friday (Oct 8).

The Santubong MP also reminded the people to continue to practise the new norms and be vigilant at all times.

“I call on all Malaysians not to be complacent and always practise the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the government,” he said.

On Thursday, Khairy said Malaysia had struck a deal with the US drug maker to buy 150,000 courses of its experimental antiviral pill.

“This decision was made as we prepare to transition into the endemic phase, where we can co-exist with the virus by adding new innovative treatments as ‘weapons’ to fight Covid-19.

“This is apart from vaccination and other public health measures,” the minister said in a statement.

Clinical data had shown that 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 hospitalised for those most at risk of contracting severe Covid-19.

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