Dozens of drugmakers in Asia, Africa and the Middle East are set to produce cheaper versions of Merck's COVID-19 pill, following a deal with the UN-backed Medicines Patent Pool.
Once produced, they will be distributed to more than 100 developing countries.
Will this help bring the world closer to the end of the pandemic?
For a deeper analysis, we have Dr. Kim Seung-taek, Head of Zoonotic Virus Lab at Institut Pasteur Korea.
Dr. Kim, welcome to the program.
Three South Korean companies are among the 27 generic drug manufacturers that would start producing Merck's molnupiravir.
Those are Hanmi Pharmaceutical, Celltrion and Dongbang FTL.
They will either make the raw ingredients for the pill or the finished product or both.
Could you tell us more?
A total of 27 drug makers in 11 countries, including China, Vietnam and Egypt , have joined the drug production.
Could you tell us about some of the other drugmakers that are taking part?
Deliveries could start as early as February at a much lower price of 20 dollars per course.
There will be demand for the pills how much of that can be met?
Merck is not going to receive royalties for the sale of those pills, which is unusual in the drug industry.
What's the reason? Merck could have chosen to protect its patented treatments.
However, molnupiravir has reportedly shown low efficacy in trials and possible side-effects.
Also, it hasn't been approved by the World Health Organization.
What are concerns surrounding the treatment and distribution?
Dr. KIM Seung-taek at Institut Pasteur Korea. Many thanks for your insights.
07.Title: Lawmakers agree on schedules to review recent US$ 12 billion extra budget proposal
여야, 추경 임시국회 27일 개의…설 연휴 직후부터 심사
South Korean lawmakers will start next Thursday their review and discussion of the recently proposed extra budget worth almost 12 billion U.S. dollars, which will fund more relief payments for small businesses.
The ruling Democratic Party and main opposition People Power Party agreed on the schedule today for the upcoming provisional session of the National Assembly, which starts this week.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum will deliver the opening speech for the session where he'll explain the details of the budget.
A date has not been set yet for the plenary session needed to pass it, but the Moon administration is hoping for the money to be distributed by next month.