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Pfizer allows 95 nations to make its COVID-19 pill, 53% of world to benefit

Pfizer allows 95 nations to make its COVID-19 pill, 53% of world to benefit

Geneva: Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has signed a deal enabling the production and supply of its experimental COVID anti-viral drug in dozens of lower- and middle-income countries.

The agreement between the US company and the UN-backed international public health group Medical Patent Pool (MPP) would allow producers to manufacture and supply generic versions of the drug in 95 countries without the threat of patent infringement.

However, this deal excludes several countries including Brazil that saw a severe outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most of the countries included in the deal are in Africa and Asia, covering about 53 percent of the world's population.

This is a step in the positive direction as World Health Organisation designated the COVID-19 pandemic as a public health emergency.

Under the deal, Pfizer -- which also produces one of the most widely-used Covid vaccines with German lab BioNTech -- will not receive royalties from the generic manufacturers, making the treatment cheaper.

The agreement is subject to the oral antiviral medication passing ongoing trials and regulatory approval.

The Pfizer drug is to be taken with the HIV medicine Ritonavir.

Interim data from ongoing trials demonstrated an 89 percent reduction in the risk of Covid-19-related hospitalisation or death compared to a placebo, in non-hospitalised high-risk adults with Covid-19 within three days of symptom onset, said Pfizer.

Similar results were seen within five days of symptom onset, it added.

The Geneva-based MPP is a United Nations-backed international organisation that works to facilitate the development of medicines for low- and middle-income nations.

If approved, the pill could be on the market in "a matter of months", MPP policy chief Esteban Burrone told AFP.

Pfizer will forego royalties on sales in all countries covered by the agreement while Covid-19 remains classified as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization.

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