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Govt. to introduce oral COVID-19 medicine Lagevrio for 100,000 patients this week: interior minister

People line up for COVID-19 tests at a testing facility located in central Seoul last Tuesday. (Yonhap)
People line up for COVID-19 tests at a testing facility located in central Seoul last Tuesday. (Yonhap)

The government will introduce the oral antiviral medicine Lagevrio for 100,000 patients this week while seeking an early procurement of additional oral COVID-19 medicine, Interior Minister Jeon Hae-cheol said Monday.

The planned introduction of the medicine by American multinational pharmaceutical company MSD, also known as Molnupiravir, comes amid rising demand for such oral COVID-19 medicine, the minister said during a COVID-19 response meeting.

Over the weekend, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has said it is carefully considering the authorization of Molnupiravir for high-risk patients with mild to moderate symptoms who cannot take Paxlovid or Remdesivir for coronavirus treatment.

"On top of the introduction of Paxlovid for 95,000 patients planned for April, the government is seeking an early procurement of additional oral COVID-19 medicine," Jeon noted.

The minister said the country's daily infection cases have been on the downturn for four straight days after hitting an all-time high last week, adding that the hospital bed occupancy rate for seriously ill COVID-19 patients is at 69 percent, while the fatality rate remains at 0.1 percent for five weeks in a row.

"The number of patients in critical condition and deaths are on the rise, but the accumulated fatality rate remains at 0.15 percent, less than one-fourth the rates seen in the US, Britain and France where the infection peaks have already taken place," he said. (Yonhap)

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