We’re nearly two years into this pandemic, so it really is high time that more pharmaceutical interventions came online. Sure enough, just as the Omicron variant of COVID threatens to cause havoc, two new anti-viral pills are now officially ‘on the brink’ of being made available for public use – with Gauteng at the front of the queue.

COVID pills for Gauteng? MEC reveals plan to fight Omicron

Jack Bloom is the shadow health MEC in the province. He has pressed the local government about how they plan to stem the soaring number of cases in Gauteng, as Omicron rips through the community. His opposite number, Nomathemba Mokgethi, already seems on top of it, however:

“As Gauteng faces an escalating fourth wave, consideration is being given for the use of two overseas drugs that have shown promise as effective early treatments in overseas trials. This good news was disclosed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in an oral reply today to my questions at a virtual sitting of the Gauteng Legislature.”

“According to Mokgethi, Paxlovid and Molnupiravir drugs are being considered – although these pills are not yet registered by the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). Mokgethi said that the National Essential Medicines List Committee is looking at peer reviews to finalise approval for the use of these drugs in South Africa.”

Jack Bloom

What you need to know about anti-viral COVID pills

The two pills are both capable of cutting down the chances that you’ll end up in hospital, or even a mortuary, as a result of COVID-19. Both Merck and Pfizer have expressed ‘the highest faith’ in their anti-viral products:

  • Section 21 of the Medicines Act allows SAHPRA to distribute drugs approved by an overseas regulatory authority.
  • Merck’s Molnupiravir pill and Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill are the two alleged ‘wonder drugs’ up for consideration.
  • Molnupiravir has been shown to reduce the chances of hospitalisation and death by 30%.
  • Paxlovid, meanwhile, claims to be 85% effective in preventing the worst possible outcomes.
  • Pfizer, who know a thing or two about little pills, are behind the apparently more successful Paxlovid tablets.
  • BOTH must be taken within five days of symptoms starting.

A different picture, thanks to Omicron

Omicron has been a bit of a game-changer in recent weeks, and early data suggests it will have a propensity to reinfect those who have already had COVID-19.

The vaccinated may also catch this strain, but those who have been fully jabbed already have a high level of protection against serious disease. These pills, however, work well enough to reinforce antibody levels in the vulnerable.



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