Cape Town - As the Covid-19 pandemic persists, albeit with less harrowing effects, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) has announced its approval of a new oral drug for the treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19 infections, reducing the chances of hospitalisation due to the virus.
Last week, Sahpra said it had registered Paxlovid, an anti-viral medicine manufactured by Pfizer, for the treatment of Covid-19.
Paxlovid consists of two separate medications, Nirmatrelvir (150mg) and Ritonavir (100mg), and is used for the treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19 in adults who do not require supplemental oxygen and who are at a high risk of severe disease, the drug regulatory body said in a statement.
The treatment consists of tablets for a five-day regimen, to be taken in the morning and evening.
Some of the side-effects include hypersensitivity reactions, diarrhoea, vomiting and altered taste.
Sahpra approved a shelf life of 12 months for the treatment, when stored at or below 25°C.
“Sahpra is committed to fast-tracking the registration of all health products that are of an urgent nature, such as HIV-Aids, cancer, and Covid-19. As Covid-19 is a looming threat, the registration of Paxlovid heralds a welcome signal in the fight against this pandemic,” said Sahpra CEO Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela.
Meanwhile, South Africans aged 18 years and older now qualify for an additional Covid-19 vaccine dose or booster.
This would mean people aged 18 to 49 would qualify for a fourth dose and those aged 50 and above would qualify for a fifth dose. This came into effect on January 30.
Department spokesperson Mark van der Heever said the department had sufficient stock available to cater for the additional boosters. To date, the department has administered 5727146 vaccines in the province.
“Immunity (whether from previous infection or vaccination) decreases over time and a booster helps to increase antibodies up to 10 times. Vaccination remains the best defence against serious illness and death from Covid-19.
“The coronavirus has also continued to evolve over time,” Van der Heever said.
He said the department has implemented several strategies to make boosters more accessible to the public. This includes deploying mobile outreach teams in public spaces and the Vaxi Taxi.
“Without a large uptake of boosters in the province, Covid-19 infection rates could surge again. Coming forward for a booster vaccination is a good idea, and the best way for us to reduce infections and hospital admissions ahead of the winter season,” Van der Heever said.