The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said on Sunday it is considering purchasing an experimental pill that, according to its makers, significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19.
Responding to reporters' questions regarding plans to acquire supplies of the antiviral oral treatment molnupiravir in a news conference, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (???) said the CECC was already in talks with the drug's manufacturer.
According to statements from manufacturer Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by approximately 50 percent during initial clinical trials.
In several preclinical models, the antiviral medication apparently also showed the ability for SARS-CoV-2 response, including prophylaxis, treatment and prevention of transmission.
The drug was originally invented under the name EIDD-2801 by the Emory University-affiliated non-profit Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory (DRIVE), and entered its current trials after being purchased from DRIVE by the Miami-based Ridgeback who then partnered with Merck to develop the drug further.
Merck stated that, based on its latest findings, it intended to apply for emergency use authorization with the U.S.' Food and Drug Administration.
In addition to considering the purchase of molnupiravir, Chen said the CECC would continue promoting COVID-19 vaccines to the general public.
Chen reiterated that although doses of the Moderna vaccine would be coming into the country in different shipments, he did not have a precise estimate on the arrival date for those who were still waiting for a second dose of the specific brand of vaccine.
In related news, the New Taipei City government has fined the city's En Chu Kong Hospital, after the hospital inadvertently inoculated 25 individuals with undiluted doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT) COVID-19 vaccine on Sept. 27.
During an online press briefing on the city's COVID-19 situation, Chen Ran-chou (???), chief of the New Taipei City Department of Health, said an investigation found that the hospital had made a number of questionable errors.
These included incomplete training for those administering the vaccine, resulting in a failure to inspect doses before inoculation.
En Chu Kong Hospital received a NT$250,000 fine and was also made to compensate the city government for the price of the misused doses.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel