Pfizer's Covid-19 antiviral pill, Paxlovid, will be rolled out at selected polyclinics & PHPCs in phases

The NCID had already started administering the drug to a handful of patients.

Zi Shan Kow | March 14, 2022, 08:09 PM

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Singapore will be rolling out Pfizer's new antiviral pill used to treat Covid-19.

Known as Paxlovid, the pill can reduce the likelihood of hospitalisation by 88 per cent within five days of the onset of Covid-19 symptoms.

Rollout in Singapore

The Ministry of Health (MOH) told the The Straits Times that the rollout will be conducted at selected polyclinics and Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) in phases.

MOH did not specify when the rollout will be.

The National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) told ST that it had begun administering the drug to "a handful" of patients two weeks ago.

It is also already being used in acute hospitals.

According to ST, MOH said there are strict guidelines governing its use, and it has worked with NCID to put in place monitoring processes.

This is the first Covid-19 pill approved by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for use in Singapore.

Eligibility for the drug

Patients at polyclinics and PHPCs who are at risk of severe Covid-19 and who are within five days of the onset of illness will be eligible for the drug, ST reported.

Patients at the highest risk of severe illness at both public and private hospitals can also receive the drug.

For a limited time, MOH will also fully cover the cost of Paxlovid for use in the eligible primary care settings when it is rolled out.

A five-day course of the drug cost the United States government about USD$530 (S$720), reported Reuters.

About Paxlovoid

Paxlovid is orally taken, comprising two medicines:

  1. Nirmatrelvir, an antiviral medicine
  2. Ritonavir, a medicine used to maintain the blood level of nirmatrelvir for antiviral efficacy

The drug is to be taken twice daily for five days and should be given as soon as possible within five days of the onset of symptoms.

HSA stated that Paxlovid has a "generally low" rate of adverse events reported in the clinical study, and common side effects were mild to moderate, such as altered sense of taste, diarrhoea, vomiting, hypertension, muscle pain and chills.

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Top image by Pfizer Singapore.