–Health Ministry receives Paxlovid pills to bolster response to the virus
THE Ministry of Health, on Monday, received some 5,040 Paxlovid pills from UNICEF to further boost Guyana’s capacity to treat COVID-19.
The pills were received by Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony at his Brickdam, Georgetown Office, where he said that the handing over follows several efforts on the part of UNICEF to procure the medication for Guyana.
Just last year, UNICEF signed an agreement with drug maker, Pfizer, to procure the medication at a reduced cost to be able to provide this to countries like Guyana for the care and treatment of COVID-19 patients.
As a result of that agreement, the organisation was able to purchase the medication at US$83 per box as opposed to the initial cost of US$600 per box.
According to the Health Minister, the medication is considered an antiviral one and at critical points in the lifecycle of the virus, it would help to interrupt the flow and prevent the coronavirus from replicating.
“It has been quite effective in doing so and most people who used this medication actually saw a reduction in the time that they spent and even if they were very symptomatic you would see that change quite rapidly,” Dr Anthony added.
Further, he said that studies have shown that Paxlovid also decreases the incidence of long COVID-19.
While he noted that having these drugs marks another milestone in Guyana’s fight against COVID-19, the country has not been seeing a lot of cases as of late and it is at the lowest level seen thus far.
“So, that’s a very positive thing, we want to keep it that way, but just in case we have patients we now have medication that we can use for those patients,” Dr Anthony said.
Meanwhile, UNICEF’s Deputy Representative to Guyana and Suriname, Irfan Akhtar, said that UNICEF was advocating with its headquarters and other partners to ensure that Guyana would be able to access the medicine.
Initially, he said that because of the high cost and high demand for the drug, it was not accessible to lower- and middle-income countries.
While this tranche includes 151,200 pills and will be able to treat some 5,040 patients in Guyana, if needed, Akhtar said UNICEF would he happy to mobilise more in the future.