Gates foundation pledges $120 million for generic antiviral COVID pill for low income nations


On Wednesday, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations said that they would donate up to $120 million, to provide access of Merck’s antiviral COVID pill molnupiravir to poor nations who have been struggling to gain access to vaccine supplies or to distribute them.

The foundation released a statement which said that money from the Gates foundation would be used to support activities that were necessary to develop and manufacture a generic version of the oral pill—molnupiravir that has been developed by Merck.

The statement also mentioned that the funding would be made after molnupiravir gained approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The regulatory body is expected to schedule a meeting with outside experts on November 30. If the FDA clears the drug, it could become the first pill that will be used orally to treat COVID-19.

The foundation also said that this funding would build on its ongoing efforts put in to deal with the pandemic from its beginning. It said that it had funded $1.9 billion for improving access to COVID-19 vaccines, for treatments and for tests.

Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said that early results on molnupiravir showed that high risk patients who took the pill within five days after they were infected with COVID-19 had halved their hospitalization and death rates.

Other big pharma have also started trials with oral pills to prevent or treat COVID-19 infections. Pfizer and Roche are among those who have started trials. Merck has been the first to state that they have obtained good results.

It is now up to the FDA and its independent experts to study the results and if satisfied, to give this new antiviral pill molnupiravir approval so that it can be produced as early as possible and generic versions could be distributed among low income countries.

Source Forbes ABC News

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