Thailand orders 200,000 courses of a breakthrough drug to treat COVID-19 developed by scientists at US pharma giant Merck. The new treatment, taken in pill form over 5 days, involves 40 doses which help neutralise the genetic code of the virus in the body.
Thailand has announced an advance order for 200,000 courses of a revolutionary new drug that can treat the COVID-19 virus as the country’s top virologist, Dr Yong Poovorawan, has warned that the goal now to deal with the virus is to live with it eventually as an endemic disease and urged all people living in Thailand to get vaccinated to boost their immunity as herd immunity from the disease is not possible.
Thailand’s leading virologist has come out to encourage all people living in Thailand who have not yet been vaccinated, to do so in order to boost their immunity against the COVID-19 virus. He has concluded that herd immunity against it is not attainable.
Dr Yong Poovorawan of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University pointed to Singapore with a vaccination rate of 80% and the current need for booster vaccines in Israel, a country that has been a pioneer in mass vaccination of its population, as enough evidence to prove the point.
Herd immunity is not possible with the present virus, we must learn to live with it as an endemic disease
He explained that while vaccines in the case of some diseases such as measles help protect the unvaccinated against infection with a ‘herd immunity effect’, this was not the case with the present virus.
The clear statement from Dr Yong comes after a report from the UK in recent weeks suggested that some leading scientists believed that herd immunity was in play and linked with a reduction in infections recorded in late September.
The leading Thai virologist believes that living with COVID-19 as an endemic disease must now be the goal.
For those already infected or vaccinated, the chances for more severe symptoms are reduced substantially
He explained that once a person has been infected previously from the disease or vaccinated, then the chance of developing severe symptoms from it are significantly reduced.
In this way, he forecast that COVID-19 will eventually morph into a normal respiratory illness that becomes endemic within the population meaning that it is both predictable and manageable.
‘Forget about herd immunity because it will not work with COVID-19,’ said Dr Yong. ‘We will have to live with the virus the way we have been living with other viruses and this disease can happen in young children, but with mild symptoms. We can never get rid of it.’
Thailand orders 200,000 doses of a breakthrough treatment for COVID-19 from an American firm
It comes as Thailand’s Department of Medical Sciences has announced an advance order for 200,000 doses of a revolutionary new treatment for COVID-19 manufactured by US pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co.
The treatment named Molnupiravir has caused quite a stir worldwide and works by introducing errors into COVID-19’s genetic code within the body.
Reports from the United States suggest that approval from the American Food and Drug Administration is imminent and that the company plans to produce 10 million doses of the new drug by the end of this year.
Molnupiravir is an oral medication delivered in pills.
New drug, a five day treatment, will arrive in Thailand in November and will be made available once approved by the Thai Food and Drug Administration
This week, Mr Somsak Akksilp of the Department of Medical Sciences confirmed that the drug should be available in Thailand by November but would only be used on patients once it is approved by both the US and Thai Food and Drug Administration agencies.
Other countries interested in the breakthrough drug include Australia, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan with the Philippines reported to have engaged Merck to run a domestic trial of the drug to secure a volume discount on the treatment.
This week, the Director-general of the Department of Disease Control at the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong said although no drug is proven to be completely effective against any disease, it is hoped that the administration of this new treatment in the early stages of COVID-19 will turn out to be effective.
Mr Somsak declined to give information on the cost of the drug to Thailand but confirmed reports from the United States suggest that the US government is paying Merck & Co $700 for every 5-day course of the treatment which involves administering 40 doses of the drug or pills.