Private sector has capacity to manufacture Pfizer’s COVID pills – Health Minister

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

The Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony has disclosed that there is a possibility that the local private sector can produce Pfizer’s antiviral COVID-19 pills, once given approval, and if this is done, then the Guyana government is willing to procure the tablets from them.

Pfizer has signed an agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO) Patent Production Office to allow countries to use its technology to manufacture the Paxlovid pills, which was created to treat COVID-19 infected persons who are at high risk of becoming severely ill.

During his COVID-19 update today, Dr Anthony explained that, unlike the private sector, the public health sector does not have the capacity to manufacture these pills.

“We don’t have manufacturing capacity in the Public sector for pharmaceuticals, but here in Guyana, there are private companies that would have the manufacturing capabilities. So, if those companies work with the WHO Patent Office and are able to bring that particular medicine to Guyana it is something we will want to procure,” he stated.

According to the Health Minister, the manufacturer of the Paxlovid pills would be very costly. As such, he noted that if the local private sector is unable to take up production of the pills then government will procure it from other countries.

“If that does not happen, because it would require a lot of investment to make sure that you’re producing this type of medication, then certainly with the amount of countries now that are going to be producing this medication, then we are certain that we will be able to get the medicine at an affordable price, once production has started,” Dr Anthony stated.

He added, “So, it is something that we’re looking at as I have said before, we have looked at the efficacy of the medication it seems to be working quite well and therefore as soon as it made available and it’s licensed then that is something that we’ll want to look at and it certainly a medication that we would like to add to the meds that we have been using to treat COVID-19.”

Nevertheless, Minister Anthony reiterated that these pills are yet to be approved for emergency use by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Right now, it still has to go through that process with the Food and Drug Administration, in the United States, so they have to present the data, it has to be reviewed and once it’s reviewed and they have accepted it then they will give emergency use authorization, so that has not been done as yet.”

Guyana is currently using several COVID-19 vaccines as its main preventative measure against the deadly virus.

To date, some 394,094 adults have received their first dose of a Covid vaccine which represents 76.6 per cent of the adult population, of which 266,127 or 51.9 per cent are fully vaccinated.

For children between the ages of 12 to 17, some 28,551 or 39.1 per cent have received a first dose of the Pfizer vaccines, while 19,758 or 27.1 per cent of that age cohort have received both doses.

Meanwhile, there are currently 1,900 active cases in Guyana, including 16 patients in the COVID-19 ICU and the remaining 1,884 persons in either home or institutional isolation.

Another eight persons are also in institutional quarantine.

To date, some 34,222 persons have recovered from the life-threatening virus.