Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday said that Australia will buy 300,000 courses of Merck’s & Co’s experimental antiviral pill. The statement came after Victoria recorded the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases of any state in the country since the pandemic began.

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Merck’s & Co’s antiviral pill Molnupiravir will be the first oral antiviral medicine for COVID-19 if it gets regulatory approval. According to the experts, its approval could reduce the chances of dying or being hospitalized to 50% for most of the people who are at risk of contracting severe COVID-19.

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“These treatments mean that we are going to be able to live with the virus,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Nine News on Tuesday. Australia is looking to reopen its borders next month for fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents.

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Morrison said that Molnupiravir capsules have to be taken twice a day for five days by adult patients for a course of 10.

The drug is expected to be available in Australia by early next year if approved by the country’s drug regulator.

Merck aims to produce 10 million courses of treatment by the end of 2021.

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Phillippines is already running a trial on the pills and South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Malaysia are also in the talks to buy the potential treatment.

Australia is increasing its vaccination rate as Sydney, Melbourne and the capital Canberra are enduring a weeks-long lockdown to combat the highly infectious Delta variant. 80% of the adult population have received their first dose till Tuesday morning.

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A total of 1,763 new cases were registered in Victoria, exceeding the previous daily high of 1,488 on Saturday. The state is looking to start reopening once full vaccination levels in its adult population reach 70% which is expected to happen around the end of October.

Even with the Delta outbreaks, Australia still has relatively low coronavirus numbers, with around 115,800 cases. Total deaths stood at 1,357, with the mortality rate from the current.

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