by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE Health Ministry (MoH) is expanding the use of the Paxlovid medicine to selected private health facilities.
Its Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar (picture) said the antiviral drug will be provided free of charge, although patients are subject to consultation and related service charges at private facilities.
He added that the decision was made to ensure better access for patients to seek treatment using the drug.
“Although Malaysia has entered the endemic phase and the country’s borders have also been reopened, high-risk groups such as the elderly and individuals with comorbidities, including those who have not been vaccinated, must be given the best protection to avoid the effects of Covid-19,” he said in a statement today.
For the record, MoH initiated the use of Paxlovid in government health facilities on April 15, 2022, to treat Covid-19 patients.
Paxlovid is the first oral antiviral drug in Malaysia to treat Covid-19 patients who have mild to moderate symptoms or those who are from categories 2 and 3.
The priority of Paxlovid treatment is given to the high-risk group of Covid-19 patients.
According to Khairy, as of June 5, a total of 1,364 patients had been given Paxlovid and had fully recovered, with no serious side effects reported.
Therefore, he said, the treatment proved to be safe and effective and could reduce the severe effects of infection and mortality of Covid-19 patients.
Meanwhile, Khairy also said MoH is now in an effort to ensure that high-risk groups continue to receive optimal protection from Covid-19 infection by starting treatment with the monoclonal antibody drug Tixagevimab plus Cilgavimab (Evusheld) in the near future.
He noted that the drug could only be given to patients aged 12 and above, weighing more than 40kg and among the moderate to severe immunocompromised group.
“This takes into account the immune response of this group to Covid-19 vaccination who may not have reached a satisfactory level of immunity or individuals who are unable to take the vaccine completely due to medical reasons or have a history of severe reactions to Covid-19 vaccine,” he added.
The method of giving the antibody drug is through two separate intramuscular injections of two types of drugs, namely Tixagevimab and Cilgavimab, which are given consecutively.
“Whereas for immunocompromised patients who have received Covid-19 vaccine, Evusheld should be given at least two weeks after vaccination.
“Currently, the Evusheld antibody drug will only be given in government hospitals and it can be used as pre-exposure prophylaxis for those who have not been infected with Covid-19 but are at high risk of infection,” he noted.
Khairy also said studies have shown that the Evusheld antibody drug could protect recipients from Covid-19 infection for a period of six months after the injection.