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Australia will buy Merck's Covid-19 pill; Victoria cases hit record

Australia will buy Mercks Covid-19 pill; Victoria cases hit record

October 6, 2021: -On Tuesday, Australia will buy 300,000 doses of Merck & Co’s experimental antiviral pill, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, as Victoria logged the highest number of daily Covid-19 infections of any state in the country since the pandemic began.

Molnupiravir, the first oral antiviral medication for Covid-19 if it gets regulatory approval, could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalized for people most at risk of contracting severe Covid-19 to experts.

“These treatments mean that we will be able to live with the virus,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Nine News as Australia aims to reopen its borders next month for completely vaccinated citizens and permanent residents. The drug is to be available in Australia by next year.

Merck said last week it plans to seek U.S. emergency use authorization for the pill possible and make regulatory applications worldwide.

Australia will step up its vaccination rate, with Sydney and Melbourne, its largest cities, and Canberra’s capital enduring a weeks-long lockdown to combat the highly infectious delta variant. On Tuesday, the national first-dose rate in the adult population is expected to top 80% later.

A total of 1,763 new infections were reported in Victoria, exceeding the previous daily high of 1,488 on Saturday. The state is looking to reopen once complete vaccination levels in its adult population reach 70%, expected around October, from 53% now.

“Vaccination is how we will curtail the growth in these numbers; vaccination is how we will open up and be free,” state Premier Daniel Andrews said during a media briefing.

The country’s biggest city, Sydney, is poised to exit its lockdown on October 11, the first Monday after it expects 70% of its population more than 16 to be fully vaccinated, as daily cases decreased to the lowest in seven weeks by Tuesday. New South Wales reported 608 new cases, the majority in state capital Sydney, 623 on Monday, and seven new deaths.

Even with the delta outbreaks, Australia still has relatively low coronavirus numbers, with nearly 115,800 cases. The deaths stood at 1,357, with the mortality rate from the current delta outbreak less than the previous year due to higher inoculation among the vulnerable population.

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