China approved Merck & Co.’s COVID-19 antiviral molnupiravir for emergency use as Beijing seeks to expand access to treatments amid a massive wave of infections following its abrupt pivot away from COVID-Zero in early December, reports Bloomberg.
The drug, known by the brand name Lagevrio, has been granted conditional emergency approval for treating mild and moderate infections among adults at risk of progressing to severe disease, China’s National Medical Products Administration said Friday. It’s the second foreign COVID-19 treatment cleared for use in China after authorities gave Pfizer’s Paxlovid the go-ahead in early 2022.
China’s surging wave of infections has caused domestic shortages for everything from fever-reducing medicines to antivirals that prevents severe disease. The effects have also rippled beyond China’s borders, with pharmacies in places such as South Korea, Singapore and Japan being emptied of medicines to be then sent to China.