Pfizer’s COVID-19 oral antiviral drug approved for use in Singapore

The first batches of the pill are expected to arrive this month.

Nur Sabrina

Needs her space organised and clean 24/7.

Published: 4 February 2022, 12:44 PM

The Ministry of Health (MOH) approved the use of a new oral antiviral drug from pharmaceutical company Pfizer to treat COVID-19 patients on Thursday (Feb 3). 

The first batches of the pills, called Paxlovid, are expected to arrive this month. Those at a higher risk of severe illnesses from the virus will be given priority access.

The pills are a combination of two medicines called nirmatrelvir, an antiviral medication, and ritonavir, which helps the nirmatrelvir stay active in the body at higher concentrations for a longer period of time. 

Upon reviewing the clinical data for the medication, it was found that Paxlovid could reduce hospitalisation or even death due to COVID-19 by 88.9 per cent if taken within three days from the start of symptoms, said the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

It was also found that the pills have an effective rate of 87.8 per cent when consumed within five days when symptoms are first detected. 

Paxlovid was tested on patients infected with the Delta variant and lab studies showed that it also works against other variants like Omicron. 

While the antiviral drug will reduce the severity or onset of illness in patients, common side effects like an altered sense of taste and muscle pain appeared in a low number of cases during the clinical study. 

Despite the approval of Paxlovid in Singapore, clinical director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases Dr Shawn Vasoo said: “Vaccination is still the mainstay for prevention and the vast majority who are infected will do well and not require any specific treatments if they do not have any risk factors for severe disease.”

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