Tackling Covid-19 could soon be as simple as popping a pill, with the Federal Government expected to sign a deal to secure new antiviral medication which promises to reduce the impact of the disease while also making people less infectious.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the government are in talks with a number of pharmaceutical companies around the world and could sign a pre-purchase deal in the coming days.
Antiviral drugs are already being used in hospitals around the world to treat patients with severe Covid-19 symptoms. Currently, Australia uses treatments such as Remdesivir, a broad-spectrum antiviral medication, however, the newer drugs will not have to be taken in hospital settings and may be able to be administered at home instead.
While the drugs are being heralded as a way to add another layer of protection against the virus, they will not replace vaccinations entirely.
A pharmaceutical industry source told The Daily Telegraph that the goal was to develop a drug for people who had been advised they had become a “close contact”. In this instance, the pills would help reduce the person’s viral load, and infectiousness, and reduce their chances of falling seriously ill. The drugs may also help to prevent the spread to those who are unable to be vaccinated.
A spokesman for Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government was working on securing new “promising treatments” for Covid-19 “as soon as they become available”.
“The Australian government has invested in millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines and secured access to novel Covid-19 treatments such as Remdesivir,” he said. “Australia is working closely with the researchers and manufacturers of other promising new treatments for Covid-19 that are in development.”
There are numerous companies currently working on the development of Covid therapy pills including Pfizer, Roche and Merck & Co, which is known as MSD in Australia. MSD confirmed in a statement to The Daily Telegraph that it was in discussions with the federal government and would be sharing the details of its global phase three clinical trial as soon as the data was ready.
The US Government have already signed a pre-purchase agreement to secure 1.7 million courses of a product from MSD and poured billions into other programs to support the development of the new drugs.
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