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No 10 to buy new antiviral treatments for Covid in time for winter


No 10 to buy new antiviral treatments for Covid in time for winter

No 10 has made deals to buy hundreds of thousands of doses of two new antiviral treatments for coronavirus, ministers have announced, at least one of which it is hoped will be approved for use in the UK ahead of the winter.

One deal covers 480,000 courses of molnupiravir, which can be taken as a pill twice a day. In trials, the drug, made by Merck, known as MSD outside the US, has been shown to cut the risk of hospitalisation or death for patients not in hospital by half.

The other treatment is PF-07321332/ritonavir, a combination of another oral antiviral treatment with ritonavir, a drug usually used to treat HIV/Aids. Made by Pfizer, the UK has a deal for 250,000 courses, the announcement said.

Neither treatment would be used in patients before approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA); trials for PF-07321332/ritonavir are still under way. The supply of molnupiravir is expected to arrive no earlier than mid-November, with the Pfizer antivirals expected in late January.

Ministers and health advisers said the deals, made by the government’s antivirals taskforce, could play a significant role in reducing the extent of serious Covid cases over the winter. The health secretary, Sajid Javid, said they would form part of “an armoury of lifesaving measures to tackle the virus”.

Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said antivirals would be “particularly vital in protecting those who may not get the same antibody response to the vaccines as the majority of the population”. He added: “We will now work quickly to ensure the right cohorts of people receive these treatments as soon as possible, should they be approved by the MHRA.”

Health officials expect that most of the antivirals will be used to treat elderly people and immunocompromised individuals, who are most likely to be hospitalised with severe disease. The drugs work in different ways and could be used in combination in the future. The supplies are expected to last this winter and next.

Antivirals, which can be used to either treat those infected with a virus or protect people from becoming infected, have become an increasingly important part of the response to Covid. The health department says the first treatment used for Covid, dexamethasone – a steroid that dampens lung inflammation rather than an antiviral – has since saved 22,000 lives in the UK and about a million worldwide.

One key aim for the taskforce has been to find an antiviral pill that people can take at home before winter sets in.

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AIDS Agency Chief Says 1 Out Of 100 Persons Positive In Kaduna

The Executive Secretary of Kaduna State Aids Control Agency (KADSACA), Dr Isa Baka has said a survey had revealed that one out of 100 people is positive to the AIDS disease in the state.

Baka disclosed this speaking shortly after a walk in commemoration of the World AIDS Day, on Thursday in Kaduna.

The theme of the year’s’ World AIDS Day is “Equalise to End AIDS: Equal Access to Treatment and Prevention Services’’.

He said the present statistics was a remarkable development against previous survey which gave 11 of every 100 people in the state.

Baka added that the AIDS prevalence in Kaduna, which is at 1.1, being a survey carried out by the state government itself, was later done at the national level, where that of Kaduna was confirmed as very accurate.

“At the national level, the prevalence of the virus (AIDS) was at 1.4 (four people out of 100 test positive), while that of Kaduna is confirmed to be 1.1, was in determination of the state government and KADSACA’s efforts to ensure minimal prevalence of the virus,” he said.

He said as part of efforts to continue reducing the prevalence of AIDS in the state, government initiated programmes across the 23 LGAs.

He said one of the UNICEF anchored programmes, which is the ‘Adolescent and Youths Living With HIV and AIDS’ programme, was present and effective in at least, 18 LGAs and 24 sites in the state.

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Malawi Commences Large Scale Malaria Vaccination- First In The World

Malawi has commenced large-scale vaccination of children against malaria.

This is the first large-scale malaria vaccination campaign since the World Health Organisation (WHO) endorsed the widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine in October 2021.

The endorsement followed a two-year vaccination programme, which involved more than 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

Recommended for children from five months of age to around 18 months, the vaccine  has an efficacy of 39 percent.

The first phase of the vaccination in Malawi is expected to cover 11 of the country’s 28 districts.

In a tweet on Tuesday, the WHO in Malawi said the expansion of access to the malaria vaccine will enable more children at risk of malaria to benefit from an additional prevention tool.

“Malawi has expanded access to the first malaria vaccine! The expansion of the RTS,S Malaria vaccine, into the 11 districts that participated in the malaria vaccine implementation program (MVIP) has been launched today. The vaccine offers a glimmer hope for Malawi,” WHO wrote.

Michael Kayange, Malawi’s national malaria control programme manager, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa that although the vaccine has low efficacy, “in malaria control, there is no single intervention that does it all”.

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Nigeria Yet To Attain 70% Covid-19 Vaccination Coverage- NPHCDA

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has disclosed that Nigeria is yet to achieve 70 percent coverage for COVID-19 vaccination.

Faisal Shuaib, executive director of NPHCDA, said on Tuesday that as of November 25, a total of 56,790,371 eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination are fully vaccinated while 12,492,646 are partially vaccinated in 36 states and the FCT.

“We are 21.6 million eligible persons away from reaching its target of fully vaccinating 70 percent of its eligible population by December 2022,” he said.

“But 62 percent of the country’s eligible population is at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The country has fully vaccinated half of the total population eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

“We have also fully vaccinated an additional over 25 percent of its eligible population, in the last 110 days of SCALES 3.0 implementation.”

The executive director said 13.2 percent of fully vaccinated persons in the country have received the COVID-19 booster dose for additional protection against the virus.

He commended the COVID-19 strategy group for achieving 50 percent vaccination coverage in the country and promised that the momentum would be sustained.

Shuaib said he has also directed the team to intensify efforts toward the attainment of herd immunity.

“Until this is achieved, the strategy group will continue to develop strategies that will help the country achieve health security,” he said.

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