Government approval being sought for €90m worth of Covid antiviral pills 4 months ago

Government approval being sought for €90m worth of Covid antiviral pills

The drugs are used in the treatment of high-risk people.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is seeking Government approval for the purchase of Covid antiviral pills worth €90 million.

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Minister Donnelly will discuss the topic at today's Cabinet meeting, RTÉ reports.

These new antiviral pills for Covid are used in the treatment of high-risk adults.

According to Pfizer, the use of these drugs can reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death by 89%. The company also says it performs well against the Omicron variant.

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Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Minister Donnelly will ask for approval for three of these drugs, made by Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck.

However, the pills are currently being examined by the European Medicines Agency and have not yet been given full approval.

In December, the US Food and Drug Administration authorised Merck's antiviral Covid pill for high-risk  patients, while Britain authorised Pfizer's treatment.

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Other issues expected to be discussed at the Cabinet meeting today are advice around the importance of keeping social contacts low and the ongoing booster programme.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Government will ask Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan to consider easy the rules around restriction of movements for close contacts who are fully vaccinated.

No new restrictions are expected to be discussed.

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It comes as Minister for Education Norma Foley announced on Tuesday that schools would reopen as normal after the Christmas break, despite several concerns over the spreading of the virus.

CMO Tony Holohan said it is "inevitable" that children will contract Covid-19 in the coming days and weeks.

21,302 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed on Tuesday. 884 people are in hospital with the virus with 90 people in intensive care units.