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China approves use of Pfizer’s oral Covid drug Paxlovid

Published on Feb 12, 2022 03:41 PM IST

It’s the first anti-coronavirus oral drug specifically developed to treat the viral infection approved in China.

Residents wearing masks line up to get a throat swab for Covid-19 test at a hospital in Beijing. China has given conditional approval for Pfizer’s oral drug Paxlovid to treat adults with mild to moderate infection but with a high risk of developing severe disease. (AP)
BySutirtho Patranobis I Edited by Amit Chanda

China on Saturday gave conditional approval for Pfizer’s Covid-19 oral drug Paxlovid to treat adults with mild to moderate infection but with a high risk of developing severe disease.

It’s the first anti-coronavirus oral drug specifically developed to treat the viral infection approved in China, state media reports said.

China’s top medical regulator, the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) said in a statement that though the drug has been approved to treat adults with underlying conditions, more research needs to be conducted on it.

The drug can be used by those who have underlying problems like chronic kidney disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic lung disease, according to the NMPA announcement on Saturday.

“This is an important milestone in our fight against Covid-19,” a Pfizer representative said in a statement, quoted by Reuters.

The news of the approval prompted speculation whether it meant China will open its borders soon or relax its tight pandemic-fighting policies.

The virus first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 but has been largely controlled in the country despite cluster outbreaks.

Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital, told the Global Times that the drug will “…complement China’s already successful medical treatment methods by providing a needed shot for those with underlying diseases”.

“It will play a positive role in treating patients but it will not prevent people from contracting the virus. It is only one part of the Covid-19 containing system, just like the vaccines,” the report said.

Wang said that it is not the right moment for China to open to the world when the pandemic is still rampant overseas.

Vaccination is the key measure to prevent people from being infected and developing severe cases.

China has administered more than 3 billion Covid-19 vaccines until now, fully vaccinating a majority of its population, the national health commission (NHC) has said.

The Chinese government continues the “dynamic zero case” strategy for containing the spread of the disease, advocating “four-early” measures - early detection, early reporting, early quarantine, and early treatment of Covid-19 cases.

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