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COVID pills only for high-risk adult patients, says minister

Izah Azahari

Molnupiravir, the oral anti-viral pill, will only be given to high-risk COVID-19 adult patients, and the plan for its use has already been laid out by the Ministry of Health (MoH) prior to placing the order.

This was shared by Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah during the daily press conference yesterday.

Elaborating further, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Professional) at the MoH Dr Ang Swee Hui added that the treatment is for adults only.

“The selection criteria is for high-risk patients whom we fear will be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU),” said the deputy permanent secretary, adding that patients who are unvaccinated, have uncontrolled chronic diseases, or are elderly are among the candidates.

“If a patient is fouind to be high-risk, our experts will prescribe this anti-viral pill,” added Dr Ang.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health (MoH) Haji Maswadi bin Haji Mohsin and Deputy Permanent Secretary (Professional) at the MoH Dr Ang Swee Hui at the press conference. PHOTO: SYAHMI HASSAN

As stated by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the unsuitability of the pill for children or breast-feeding mothers, Dr Ang said that they are suitable for mothers, but not their babies.

Therefore, if a mother is breast-feeding and has contracted COVID-19, and requires the medication, it will be given to them, but they will have to pause on breast-feeding, Dr Ang said.

“Once they recover they can resume breast-feeding,” he added.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew emphasised that the pills will not be given to everyone as it is reserved for those in the high-risk group.

Dr Ang also said the MoH team of specialists will identify the qualified patients as it is not suited to everyone. Thus, he added, the ministry is not distributing the pills to health centres or hospitals en masse.

Dr Ang said the pills are to be taken for five days straight by those showing mild to moderate symptoms as it is not suited to patients who are already hospitalised.

“These pills are for those who are not hospitalised yet, but are at high risk of being admitted into hospitals or ICU. So we have to be selective in prescribing the pills to ensure patients receive the most benefit,” said Dr Ang.

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