The first anti-viral pill for COVID-19 is expected in Cyprus after mid-December for mild to moderate cases, deputy head of pharmaceutical services Elena Panagiotopoulou said.
Panagiotopoulou told the Cyprus News Agency the EMA’s human medicines committee (CHMP) had approved Merck’s request for emergency use of the drug.
Merck Sharp & Dohme’s pill, called Molnupiravir, can be taken orally within five days of the onset of symptoms.
EMA has not licensed Molnupiravir, but it has been approved as a matter of urgency for early use in light of the increasing infections and deaths due to COVID-19 across the EU.
Citing clinical studies, she said that Molnupiravir reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by 50% in patients with COVID-19, whose condition could get worse while preventing the virus from spreading to vital organs.
The pill will be prescribed for those who have a mild to moderate case of the disease and at least one risk factor for developing a serious illness, said Panagiotopoulou.
Cyprus will receive “large quantities” of the drug “possibly in the third or fourth week of December 2021”.
However, she stressed that treatments do not replace vaccination, which can prevent the contraction of COVID-19.
Panagiotopoulou said that Pfizer’s anti-viral pill, Paxlovid, is expected to be licensed around the middle of December.
Paxlovid reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% in non-hospitalized high-risk adults with COVID-19.
“Pfizer’s anti-viral pill will be a huge advancement and a very promising new addition to the armoury against COVID-19 since it can be taken at home in the early stages of infection.”