Africa CDC signs with Pfizer for COVID pill for African countries

Pfizer will now supply the COVID-19 pill that is highly effective in preventing hospitalisations and deaths.

Pfizer logo, pills
Pfizer expects sales of its COVID-19 vaccine and pill to top $54bn in 2022 [File: Dado Ruvic/Reuters]

Africa’s top public health agency (CDC) said it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Pfizer for countries on the continent to receive supplies of the Paxlovid pill to treat COVID-19.

Data from a mid-to-late stage study last November showed the antiviral medication was nearly 90 percent effective in preventing hospitalisations and deaths compared with a placebo, in adults at high risk of severe illness.

“We have signed the MOU with Pfizer and we are going to be able to make that particular treatment available to African countries,” said Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, the acting director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ouma said the MOU would allow African countries to access Paxlovid at cost.

The Africa CDC, an agency of the 55-member African Union, had said in March that the MOU was ready, but needed to be cleared by its legal office.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that deaths in the continent from COVID-19 are expected to fall by nearly 94 percent in 2022 compared with last year.

As of the end of May, Africa had reported more than 11.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 250,000 deaths since the pandemic began, according to data from the WHO Africa’s office.

As rich countries have hoarded COVID-19 vaccine doses, some African countries struggled with battling the virus at the start of the pandemic.

Although African countries struggled early in the pandemic to secure COVID-19 vaccines as rich countries hoarded available doses, many are now well-supplied with shots but are having trouble getting them into arms due to issues of hesitancy and logistics.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies