• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Pfizer to supply 4mn COVID-19 oral treatment to Nigeria, others

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Pfizer has struck an agreement with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to supply up to four million treatment courses of its COVID-19 oral treatment, Paxlovid to 95 low- and middle-income countries including Nigeria pending approval.

Recipients include all low- and lower-middle-income countries; some upper-middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and countries that have transitioned from lower-middle to upper-middle-income status in the last five years, accounting for approximately 53 percent of the world’s population.

Pfizer expects supply to be available to support orders in the next month, and continue throughout 2022, pending regulatory authorization and according to country needs.

All low- and lower-middle-income countries will be offered the treatment courses at the not-for-profit price while upper-middle-income countries will pay the price defined in Pfizer’s tiered pricing approach.

“We have seen the negative impacts of COVID-19 in every part of the world and know that we must work towards access for all people regardless of where they live or their circumstances,” Albert Bourla, chairman and chief executive officer, Pfizer said.

“Supplying to UNICEF is an important part of our comprehensive strategy to accelerate access to Paxlovid to treat COVID-19 infection as quickly as possible and at an affordable price in order to decrease the strain on healthcare systems and help save lives in low- and middle-income countries.”

Reinforcing its commitment to equitable access to treatment for all and delivery of safe and effective antiviral therapeutics at affordable rates, the biotechnology company said it will offer its oral therapy through a tiered pricing approach, based on the income level of each country to promote equity of access across the globe. High and upper-middle-income countries will pay more than lower-income countries.

Read also: AVAT launches new scheme for Covid-19 vaccine compensation

Pfizer said it is exploring potential contract manufacturing options and has raised its production projections, with the ability to produce up to 120 million courses of treatment by the end of 2022.

The company has initiated bilateral outreach to more than 100 countries around the world and has entered into agreements with multiple countries. Additionally, Pfizer has signed a voluntary license agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) for its oral treatment to help expand access, pending country regulatory approval in 95 countries targeted.

Paxlovid is a COVID-19 therapy developed to be administered orally so that it can be prescribed at the first sign of infection or at first awareness of an exposure – potentially helping patients avoid severe illness which can lead to hospitalization and death.

A component of the treatment, Nirmatrelvir is designed to block the activity of the Mpro, an enzyme that the coronavirus needs to replicate. Co-administration with a low dose of ritonavir helps slow the metabolism, or breakdown, of nirmatrelvir in order for it to remain active in the body for longer periods of time at higher concentrations to help combat the virus.

Nirmatrelvir is designed to inhibit viral replication at a stage known as proteolysis, which occurs before viral RNA replication.

Current variants of concern can be resistant to treatments that work by binding to the spike protein found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Paxlovid, however, works to bind to the highly conserved Mpro of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to inhibit viral replication. The treatment is generally administered at a dose of 300 mg (two 150 mg tablets) of nirmatrelvir with one 100 mg tablet of ritonavir, given twice daily for five days.

It has not been approved but has been authorised for emergency use by FDA under a EUA, for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients aged 12 and older weighing, at least 40 kg with positive results of direct SARS CoV-2 viral testing, and who are at high-risk for progression to severe COVID-19 infection.