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Saturday, March 25 2023

WHO says new drugs may aid fight against Covid in 2022

Bharat Biotechs Covaxin gets WHOs nod
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Stockholm: New drugs against Covid-19 will significantly increase survival chances for coronavirus patients in severe condition in 2022, World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said.

The European Medicines Agency, the European Union’s drug regulator has recommended the use of two Covid-19 antiviral pills — Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s Molnupiravir — ahead of their formal approval.

“I am also encouraged by new anti-viral drugs that are likely to come to market in 2022, which will greatly increase the survival chances of patients who end up in hospital with severe Covid-19,” Kluge was quoted as saying to TASS news agency.

Both Paxlovid and molnupiravir have shown to reduce the chances of hospitalisation or death from Covid-19 in high-risk patients by 89 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.

Kluge also emphasised that the next-generation vaccines will be more effective against new emerging strains.

“I cannot predict the future. But it should be noted that the current vaccines are the first generation of Covid-19 vaccines. Future vaccines will be tweaked and adapted to new or emerging variants, thereby making them more effective.

“This is not dissimilar to what already happens with influenza vaccines, which are adapted to the new strains of flu almost on a yearly basis,” he said.

According to Pfizer, lab tests show Paxlovid continues to work against the fast-spreading Omicron variant. CEO Albert Bourla estimated that the pills can avert 1,200 deaths and 6,000 hospitalisations for every 100,000 Covid patients who take the pills.

The authorisation for molnupiravir is limited to adults over 18 who have a high risk of severe illness and “for whom alternative FDA-authorised treatment options are not accessible or medically appropriate,” the US Food and Drug Administration said in a statement. It’s also not recommended for use in pregnant people.

Both Pfizer and Merck’s pills should be taken early, within 3-5 days of getting Covid, and require several pills, multiple times a day for five days.

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