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Pfizer to distribute COVID-19 treatment pill to nearly 100 poorer nations

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Pfizer to distribute COVID-19 treatment pill to nearly 100 poorer nations
Pfizer said it's increased production to cover distribution of Paxlovid, a combination of nirmatrelvir/ritonavir, to make up to 120 million courses by the end of 2022. File Photo by Kches16414/Wikimedia Commons

March 22 (UPI) -- Pfizer announced on Tuesday that it will send as many as 4 million courses of its COVID-19 antiviral drug Paxlovid to nearly 100 low- and middle-income countries starting in April.

The company said the shipments will be sent a part of an agreement with the United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF.

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The antiviral pill, which has been considered a breakthrough in treating COVID-19 since it can be taken orally and does not require hospitalization, will be purchased at nonprofit prices, the company said.

Pfizer said the number of treatments being made available through UNICEF should cover about 53% of the world's population. Details about the cost were not made public.

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"This includes all low- and lower-middle-income countries and some upper-middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as countries that have transitioned from lower-middle to upper-middle-income status in the last five years," the company said in a statement Tuesday.

"We have seen the negative impacts of COVID-19 in every part of the world and know that we must work towards access for all people regardless of where they live or their circumstances," added Albert Bourla, Pfizer's chairman and CEO.

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"Supplying to UNICEF is an important part of our comprehensive strategy to accelerate access to Paxlovid to treat COVID-19 infection as quickly as possible and at an affordable price in order to decrease the strain on healthcare systems and help save lives in low- and middle-income countries."

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Pfizer said it's increased production to cover distribution of Paxlovid, a combination of nirmatrelvir/ritonavir, to make up to 120 million courses by the end of 2022.

Last December, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval for Paxlovid to be used in the United States to treat the coronavirus for those over the age of 12.

Earlier this month, Pfizer said it's begun late-stage studies for the pill in children between 6 and 17.

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