Australia secures more than 500,000 new doses of Covid treatments including an oral drug – but there is a catch
- The federal government has secured over 500,00 doses of Covid-19 treatments
- The first 5,000 doses of Pfizer’s oral antiviral drug will arrive by the month’s end
- 15,000 doses of Covid-19 antibody-based therapy Ronapreve were also secured
- The drug is expected to reduce death & hospitalisation from Covid-19 by 70%
Australia has secured more than 500,000 doses of Covid treatments said to reduce the severity of illness caused by the virus but they are yet to be formally approved for use.
The federal government announced on Sunday that 500,000 courses of Pfizer’s oral antiviral drug have been purchased, with the first 5,000 arriving Down Under by the end of October.
The Covid-19 antiviral drug will be used in combination with the protease inhibitor drug ritonavir.
A protease inhibitor drug blocks the enzyme which splits proteins into smaller fragments for viral growth and infection.
The federal government has secured over 500,000 doses of Covid-19 therapy drugs with the first courses set to arrive by the month’s end (pictured, a Pfizer vaccine)
Another 15,000 doses of Covid antibody-based therapy Ronapreve were also secured with studies showing the drug reduces the risk of death and hospitalisation by 70 per cent in Covid-infected people.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said clinical trials are still ongoing on the Pfizer treatment but it is expected to reduce the severity of symptoms from the virus in adults who have tested positive to Covid-19.
‘This treatment, which is still undergoing clinical trials, is expected to help to reduce the severity or onset of illness in adults who contract, or have been exposed to, COVID-19,’ he said.
‘They do not replace vaccinations.’
The drug will also be used for unvaccinated people who leave themselves at risk of contracting the Delta variant.
One of the drugs, Ronapreve, is expected to reduce the risk of death and hospitalisation in Covid-19 infected people by 70 per cent (pictured, Sydneysiders enjoying freedom)
Mr Hunt said the drug is expected to be available in 2022 but will be subject to final approvals by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
‘This oral antiviral treatment is taken every 12 hours for five days and is designed to block an enzyme the virus needs in order to multiply early in its life cycle,’ Mr Hunt said.
‘Co-administration with a low dose of ritonavir is expected to help slow the metabolism of the treatment in order for it to remain active in the body for longer periods of time at higher concentrations to combat the virus.’
The government also made a purchase agreement for 300,000 courses of oral Covid-19 treatment Molnupiravir which will also be available in 2022 after trials and TGA approval.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the drugs will be available in 2022, subject to clinical testing and TGA approvals (pictured, a vaccine drive-thru in Sydney)
32.5 million vaccine doses have now been given in Australia.
‘This is just an incredible number of Australians coming forward to be vaccinated,’ Mr Hunt said.
‘Over the course of the next week we are likely to see very important milestones reached nationally.’
Australia is likely to pass the 85 per cent first dose mark for people aged 16 and above, and 70 per cent second dose.
Mr Hunt (pictured) made it clear that these new treatments do not replace vaccination, praising Australians for rolling up their sleeves
‘It is a very critical part of the roadmap being reached nationally,’ he said.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly again urged people to get vaccinated.
‘We cannot rely on borders anymore,’ he told reporters on Sunday.
‘The virus is here in Australia, we need to learn to live with it and we are learning to live with it. It means we need to be protected.’
Meanwhile, Victoria recorded 1838 new local COVID-19 cases and seven deaths.
In NSW there were 301 new infections and a further 10 people died from the virus.