Africa joins race to amass Pfizer’s COVID-19 Paxlovid drugs

Africa joins race to amass Pfizer’s COVID-19 Paxlovid drugs

Paxlovid, a Pfizer’s coronavirus illness (COVID-19) capsule, is seen manufactured in Ascoli, Italy, on this undated handout photograph obtained by Reuters on November 16, 2021. Pfizer/Handout through REUTERS

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  • Africa says COVID medication will likely be essential in 2022
  • Considerations low-income international locations will likely be left behind
  • Omicron wave seems to be at plateau in Africa – WHO

Jan 13 (Reuters) – Africa’s prime public well being physique mentioned it was in talks with Pfizer (PFE.N) about securing provides of its antiviral COVID-19 drugs for the continent, the most recent to hitch the race for a drug seen as a possible recreation changer in combating the virus.

The Paxlovid remedy was practically 90% efficient in stopping hospitalisations and deaths, and information recommended it retains its effectiveness in opposition to the Omicron variant, Pfizer has mentioned. learn extra

“We’re in actually shut discussions with Pfizer to see what might be performed to make the medication out there on the continent and accessible on the continent, that’s, the Paxlovid medication,” mentioned John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Illness Management and Prevention.

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Governments around the globe are scrambling to purchase Paxlovid, whereas Merck’s Molnupiravir has confronted setbacks after disappointing trial information. learn extra

Whereas vaccines have been governments’ primary weapon in opposition to COVID-19, there are hopes Merck and Pfizer’s experimental drugs – taken at residence fairly than in hospital or medical centres – may very well be key in lowering the possibilities of dying or hospitalisation for these most liable to extreme sickness.

Nkengasong mentioned acquiring provides of COVID-19 medication was one among three key methods for combating the pandemic in Africa in 2022, together with scaling up vaccinations and testing.

Such medication could be essential if one other extremely transmissible variant had been to emerge and public well being methods change into overwhelmed, he mentioned.

“The one method to relieve that will likely be if now we have medication like Paxlovid the place individuals can take that drug and keep residence and get aid, and that means the burden and the constraints on the well being system will likely be restricted,” Nkengasong advised a web based information briefing.

Whereas rich international locations, together with the USA and Britain, have secured offers to purchase the drugs, considerations have grown that low-income international locations would lag on this effort on account of tight provides, as was the case within the scramble for vaccines.

The U.S. authorities’s contract for 10 million programs of the drug is priced at $530 per course, a worth that might put it out of attain for a lot of poorer international locations.

To mitigate that subject, Pfizer has agreed to permit generic producers to produce variations of the therapy to 95 low- and middle-income international locations by means of a licensing settlement with worldwide public well being group Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). learn extra

Africa has formally recorded simply over 10 million instances of COVID-19 for the reason that begin of the pandemic, though the actual quantity is probably going a lot larger on account of patchy testing.

Nkengasong mentioned 10% of Africans had been totally vaccinated.

Addressing a separate briefing, a senior official from the World Well being Group’s Africa workplace mentioned it appeared {that a} fourth an infection wave on the continent pushed by Omicron was flattening, marking the shortest surge in instances to this point.

“It’s (a) plateau … however we’re cautious and we’re observing for the upcoming couple of weeks to verify,” mentioned the WHO regional emergency director Abdou Salam Gueye.

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Writing by Estelle Shirbon;
Modifying by Angus MacSwan and Bernadette Baum

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.