Don’t be late this time

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Don’t be late this time

Governments around the world are scurrying to get their hands on U.S.-authorized Covid-19 pills as the pandemic is drawn out into a third year. The Korean government must not make the same mistake of dilly-dallying on vaccines. It must address Covid-19-related drugs as “strategic goods” and act fast to bring them home fast in an uphill battle against the infectious virus.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week authorized Merck’s Covid-19 treatment pill called Molnupiravir for emergency use following Pfizer’s pill Paxlovid.

Pfizer’s pill is believed to reduce severe illness by 88 percent and death from Covid-19 infection whereas the experimental drug of Merck came to about 30 percent efficacy. Foreign media found the Pfizer pill to be first the choice as it is deemed safer and efficient with superior benefits and milder side effects.

Pill types of anti-viral treatment that can be taken at home are easy to use and effective against Omicron and other variants. They are deemed a game-changer in the fight against Covid-19 because they are a mass-treatment that can reduce hospitalization and the spread of the virus.

Vaccines have not brought an end to the Covid-19 crisis as hoped, due to the rapid spread of its variants. Pill-type anti-viral treatments can be a new hope in the ongoing battle. Countries like the United States, Britain, Japan and Singapore moved fast to secure stocks. The U.S. has purchased 10 million Pfizer treatment courses and 3.1 million Merck courses. Britain has already secured 250,000 million courses of the Pfizer treatment and 480,000 of Merck’s and ordered an extra 2.5 million of the Pfizer type and 1.75 million of the Merck type.

In the meantime, Japan has secured 1.6 million course of the Merck pill and struck a contract for 2 million courses of the Pfizer treatment. Korea has been late this time too. The government has only secured 70,0000 of Pfizer’s courses and 242,000 of Merck’s, a sad comparison to Japan. The Korean Food and Drug Safety Authority approved emergency use of Paxlovid.

The government had caused national anxiety over vaccines by stalling in procurement upon advice from Ki Mo-ran, the presidential officer on quarantine and a former professor at the National Cancer Center. Because Korea could not procure more efficient vaccines, spread of variants has ravaged the nation. Authorities must hasten to bring home efficient pill treatments.
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