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Family doctor: We must stop stalling as new Covid medicines can save lives

Argo Lätt.
Argo Lätt. Source: ERR

Doctor Argo Lätt from the Rapla Family Medicine Center said on the "Terevisioon" morning show on Friday that coronavirus medicines should be adopted post haste as they can save lives.

"We should not be stalling today. Instead, we should take action and prepare for the next wave on the first contact level," Lätt suggested.

"We are over a barrel today. We have two antiviral drugs that directly inhibit the coronavirus' ability to multiply, mutate it so that it is destined to die. One is Molnupiravir from Merck and the other is Pfizer's Paxlovid," the family physician said.

He added that while the European Medicines Agency has registered Paxlovid, Molnupiravir is still under review. Paxlovid's efficiency has been rated at 90 percent. Merck's drug sported an efficacy of 30 percent in clinical trials.

Because the European Commission is in the middle of price talks with the manufacturer, people in Estonia have to wait as Estonia has decided to participate in the EU common tender for a better price.

Many countries have bypassed the common tender and signed direct contracts with pharmaceuticals manufacturers. "These include Latvia, Lithuania and Finland, also Germany and France. They are already using these drugs, with UK having the most experience with them," Lätt said.

Argo Lätt agreed when asked by the host whether the drug could have saved people who are no longer with us today.

"Professor Krista Fischer calculated in March that vaccination has saved 300 lives in Estonia this year, I would ask how many we could have saved had we the drugs," Lätt said.

The doctor said that a dose of Paxlovid that is enough for treatment over five days costs €650-750. "Right now, the drug is reserved for people in risk groups. The Estonian Health Insurance Fund's medicines commission decided on December 12 that both drugs will be compensated for 100 percent of the cost when they arrive, with the patient charged just €2.50," Lätt said.

"The commission has decided it will be a prescription drug for patients diagnosed with COVID-19. It will be available to people in risk groups, for example, those with a BMI of 35 or more, people over 65 years of age, with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart problems, renal insufficiency, immunodeficiency etc.," he added.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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