‘Govt looking at other antiviral meds, not just the one from Merck’


SEREMBAN: The Health Ministry will consider buying other antiviral medicines to treat Covid-19 patients other than molnupiravir, says Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said the ministry will also look at drugs produced by other pharmaceutical companies.

“We have information that a pharmaceutical company in India has also produced an antiviral drug,” he told reporters after a visit to the Mawar Medical Centre here yesterday.

“We are not only going to get the molnupiravir produced by Merck but will consider others, too,” he said.

“Our procurement will depend on how effective and safe the drug is.”

Khairy said this was similar to when the government procured Covid-19 vaccines from various companies.

On Thursday, Khairy announced that Malaysia has signed an agreement with Merck Sharp & Dohme to procure the antiviral medicine molnupiravir.

The Health Minister was quoted as saying that the government signed a letter of undertaking on Oct 7 to procure 150,000 courses of molnupiravir to treat Covid-19 patients.

This decision, Khairy told reporters, was made in preparation for Malaysia’s move into the endemic phase and living with the Covid-19 virus.

Khairy had said research conducted by Merck found that molnupiravir is able to reduce 50% of hospital admissions.

Molnupiravir, the research found is also effective against more infectious variants of Covid-19 including Gamma, Delta and Mu.

The minister, however, stressed that molnupiravir does not prevent infection and is only beneficial for people who have been infected by Covid-19.

The antiviral pill will be given free of charge to Covid-19 patients who are symptomatic for at least five days or Categories Three to Five patients.

On Friday, Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the government should provide a detailed explanation as to why it decided to procure molnupiravir.

In a Facebook post, Ahmad Zahid also asked what advantage molnupiravir has compared to other long-established medicines that have been reported to be effective in other countries.

After his event at Mawar, Khairy made a surprise visit to Hospital Tuanku Ja’afar located nearby, where he interacted with hospital personnel and patients.

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