Morocco authorizes covid antiviral pill amid Omicron surge

Morocco authorizes Merck antiviral covid pill Molnupiravir, as Omicron cases skyrocket
2 min read
07 January, 2022
As the Moroccan kingdom is facing the highly contagious Omicron wave, health authorities authorizes Merck anti Corvid pills to fill a gap in the coronavirus treatment, hoping to control the epidemiological situation in the country and avoid the worse
An illustrative image of a medical syringe, medical pills (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Morocco’s health authorities on Tuesday gave the green light to American-made covid antiviral drug Molnupiravir, as cases of the new variant Omicron skyrocket in the country, announced state media.

“The Directorate of Drugs and Pharmacy (DMP) has given marketing authorization for Molnupiravir, after several months of negotiations with the American laboratory. Once available, this treatment will be included in the treatment protocol,” said the Moroccan scientific committee in a statement to the state owned media SNRT news.

Two years after the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic in Wuhan, China, American companies Merck and Pfizer produced their first Anti-Covid orally taken drugs Molnopiravir and Pfizer pills that would fill a gap in the medical treatment of Covid-19 patients.

Morocco managed to reach purchasing agreements with Molnopiravir’s producing companies in November before its authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration, while negotiations with Pfizer and other companies are  ongoing. 

The new at-home treatment, which reduces the risk of hospitalization by 30% among COVID-19 cases, will for now be available only to vulnerable people who tested positive for coronavirus in the Kingdom.

“Only vulnerable people as elderly or citizens with high risk diseases who were not able to get the vaccine will be able to purchase the new treatment, as it is expensive and produced in small quantities,” said the President of the Moroccan National Syndicate of General Medicine Tayeb Hamdi in a statement to The New Arab.

In addition to its price that surpasses USD 700 per course in the US, the new treatment can be effective just from 3 to 5 days after the onset of symptoms, while pregnant women and children cannot take it, according to the President of the Moroccan National Syndicate of General Medicine.

Meanwhile, experts have stressed the importance of vaccination to stem the new Omicron wave, which has brought the number of cases to more than 5000 daily. The vaccination rate in the kingdom has been lagging since November last year.

Morocco has so far fully vaccinated 22.9 mln citizens, with 5 million left from the target group to reach targeted herd immunity levels. As for booster shots, the country administered less than 4 million shots since October last year, as many Moroccans remain sceptical towards getting boosted.