Ukraine has signed a deal with the U.S. pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer to buy 300,000 courses of its experimental antiviral Covid-19 treatment pill Paxlovid, Ukraine's health minister Viktor Lyashko announced on Dec. 16.
According to Pfizer, the antiviral pill reduces the risk of hospitalization or death for high-risk adults suffering from Covid-19 by 89%. The preliminary laboratory tests also show signs that Paxlovid could work against Omicron, the new Covid-19 variant.
Doctors and health officials are counting on Pfizer's pill to alleviate the symptoms of both old and new variants of the coronavirus. The drug reduces the chance of hospitalization and death for patients in high risk (obese, elderly, with heart conditions) and low risk (young, healthy) patients.
Apart from Ukraine, Pfizer is now in talks with nearly 90 countries to supply Paxlovid, company CEO Albert Bourla said in an interview with Reuters on Friday. The U.K., for example, has procured 250,000 courses of the Pfizer treatment, South Korea has agreed to buy 70,000 courses, and the U.S. plans to pay more than $5 billion to buy Paxlovid supplies enough for 10 million people.
As of Dec. 16, Omicron hasn't been detected in Ukraine, but the country's National Security and Defense Council said on Dec. 13 that the new strain of the virus may enter Ukraine this week.
Omicron spreads faster and reinfects more easily than previous versions of the coronavirus. The existing vaccines appeared to be weaker at blocking Omicron, Reuters reported. However, there are early indications that the new variant causes less serious illness than other forms of the virus.