US pharmaceutical giant Merck has vowed to avoid the pitfalls of global COVID vaccine deployment by making new anti-coronavirus pills available in rich and poor countries at about the same time.
Paul Schaper, executive director of global public policy at the company, said he began working on access strategies in July 2020, long before the results of the efficacy of the drug developed by Merck at Ridgeback Biotherapeutics were announced in October 2021. I told AFP.
The UK became the first country to approve Molnupiravir last week. Clinical trials have shown that antivirals reduce COVID hospitalizations in newly infected people by 50% and prevent death by 100%.
“We started development Supply chain Very early on. ” The company has 10 million courses ready by the end of this year and expects to at least double that number by 2022.
They are priced according to a gradual framework based on the country’s solvency, as defined by World Bank data, he said.
Known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, Merck goes beyond its supply to sign eight Indian-licensed generic partners with UN support to facilitate access in 105 countries. We have signed a voluntary license agreement with the Pharmaceutical Patent Pool.
In addition, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced last month an investment of up to $ 120 million in an effort to accelerate access to low-income countries through a “quantitative agreement” that guarantees the supply of pharmaceutical ingredients. bottom.
“In the first quarter, the second quarter of 2022, a large number of products will be available from Merck at low prices. Middle income country, “Schaper added without guessing the sum between the various strands.
“It’s very likely that the COVID response will give us much more equitable access to the drug than we’ve ever seen,” he said, and it was possible to reach low-income, middle-income, and high-income countries. He added. Almost at the same time “
In contrast, the deployment of COVID vaccines is very unfair, with high-income countries storing supply since the launch in December 2020.
Currently, 51% of the world receives one or more doses, but that number has plummeted to 4%. Low-income countries, And 3 percent of the African continent.
On the other side of the scale, the United Arab Emirates has fully vaccinated 88% of nearly 10 million people.
Vaccines are still a “need” for pandemics, but “in areas where there is a need for treatment and a low proportion of the vaccinated population, it is probably even greater,” Schaper said. ..
Mornupivir as a small molecule has the advantage of not requiring refrigeration like the messenger RNA vaccine.
Pfizer has also announced promising results for the oral COVID pill, paxlovid, which will produce 180,000 courses this year and at least 50 million courses next year.
We have started negotiations with the drug patent pool, but have not yet signed a contract.
© 2021 AFP
Quote: Merck expects Covid pills to reach rich and poor countries at the same time (November 10, 2021).
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