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Vietnam to use antiviral drug Molnupiravir for treating COVID-19 patients at home

Vietnam to use antiviral drug Molnupiravir for treating COVID-19 patients at home

Tuesday, August 24, 2021, 19:19 GMT+7
Vietnam to use antiviral drug Molnupiravir for treating COVID-19 patients at home
An experimental COVID-19 treatment pill, called Molnupiravir and developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, is seen in this undated handout photo released by Merck & Co Inc and obtained by Reuters May 17, 2021.

The Ministry of Health has added antiviral drug Molnupiravir to the list of medicines used in treating COVID-19 patients at home in a pilot program scheduled to start in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday. 

At present, the domestic manufacturers of Molnupiravir, which is developed by American pharmaceutical company Merck & Co and biotech firm Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, are ready to sponsor the first batches of the drug with 16,000 doses.

Some 100,000 additional doses will be given to Vietnam on September 5.

A combined 116,000 doses of Molnupiravir are equal to 2.32 million 400-miligram tablets, according to the ministry.

Meanwhile, a shipment of 300,000 200-miligram Molnupiravir pills, or 7,500 doses, imported from India arrived in Vietnam on Monday afternoon.

It is expected that an additional 1.7 million 200-miligram tablets will be delivered on Saturday while the next batch will be imported early next month.

Clinical trials of Molnupiravir, which were published in many countries, showed safe and virus-free results in mild and moderate patients after five days of treatment, according to the health ministry.

The drug, therefore, can help reduce the rates of hospitalization and mortality.

Given the results, the Ministry of Health and the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health decided to begin the pilot use of Molnupiravir in home treatment for COVID-19 patients in the southern city on Wednesday.

Amid the ongoing outbreaks in Ho Chi Minh City and some southern provinces, the program’s objective is to help ease pressure on hospitals and lower death rates.

The health ministry has updated its treatment plan based on global case studies and the pandemic situation, which indicates that nearly 80 percent of patients have few or no symptoms.

COVID-19 patients suffering mild symptoms will be advised by medical staff about the program. 

Those who agree to participate will be given a bag of medicine with detailed guidelines for their home-based care.

Patients will be provided with a specific instruction document from the health ministry and the municipal Department of Health, health monitoring, and consultancy from doctors in charge and medical facilities in case of severe symptoms.

All patients will be evaluated for their viral negativity and disease progression after five days.

During the 14-day period, they will be monitored for any symptoms of COVID-19 and side effects of the medicine.

Medical experts and health workers will evaluate the program’s results according to a scientific research protocol approved by the National Ethics Committee in Biomedical Research and the Ministry of Health.

The program has been supported by domestic drug manufacturers, local corporations, the Vietnam Young Physicians’ Association, task forces, mobile medical stations in Ho Chi Minh City, and other units.

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