Oral Covid-19 Pills Set For Kenya

After a new public-private consortium agreed to make oral pills used to treat Covid-19 available, you will soon be able to treat and manage symptoms from home.

Kenya is one of ten countries chosen to receive home doses of a new oral drug (Paxlovid) designed to treat severe forms of Covid-19.

The drugs, Paxlovid and Molnupiravir, will be made available through the Covid Treatment Quick Start Consortium, which will assist ministries of health in ten low- and middle-income countries in providing oral antiviral treatments to high-risk patients immediately and gradually expanding access through 2023.

The drugs have also been introduced in Ghana, Laos, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, in addition to Kenya.

New antiviral medicines, such as the two, have been available in high-income countries since late 2021, but they are not yet widely available in low- and middle-income countries, where self-testing must be scaled concurrently.

As Omicron sub-variants emerge and spread, the consortium promises that treatments will reach patients in low- and middle-income countries as soon as possible.

This is despite the fact that coronavirus cases in Kenya have dropped dramatically, with the country maintaining a 1% positivity rate. The positivity rate was one percent as of September 18, with the most recent data showing that nine people tested positive from a sample size of 861.

The Covid Treatment Quick Start Consortium will assist governments in introducing and expanding access to new and effective Covid-19 oral antiviral therapies in high-risk populations, with patients expected to begin receiving treatment in select countries in September.

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While a five-day course of Paxlovid costs approximately $530 (Sh63,812), the consortium did not disclose how much the drug will cost under this agreement.

The drugs are expected to reduce hospitalizations and Covid-related deaths, resulting in lower health-care costs.

Pfizer has donated 100,000 courses of Paxlovid™ (nirmatrelvir/ritonavir), for which the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a strong recommendation for use in high-risk individuals with mild to moderate Covid-19, administered within five days of symptom onset.

Paxlovid is an oral medication prescribed to patients with Covid-19. The pill, developed by Pfizer, is available by prescription but is only approved to treat patients 12 years of age and older who weigh at least 39.9kg (88 pounds) after testing positive.

It can be used in patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 who are at risk of developing a severe form of the disease that could result in hospitalization or death.

Paxlovid, Pfizer’s brand name for the drug composed of two generic medications, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, was found to have an 89% reduction in the risk of hospitalization and death in the clinical trial that supported the US Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

That figure was high enough for the United States to prioritize it over other Covid-19 treatments. It is also less expensive than many other Covid-19 drugs (the US government provides it for free during a public health emergency), and, perhaps most importantly, it is expected to work against the Omicron variant.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a strong recommendation in April for the use of Paxlovid in mild and moderate Covid-19 patients at high risk of hospitalization, calling it the best therapeutic option for high-risk patients to date.

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The antiviral pill can be taken at home to help keep high-risk patients from becoming sick enough to require hospitalization. Patients who test positive for the coronavirus and are eligible to take the pills at home can do so, lowering their risk of hospitalization.