First Batch of Merck Oral COVID-19 Drugs Arrives 新冠口服藥默沙東今抵台 首批1萬份

The first batch of Merck's oral COVID-19 medication arrived at Taoyuan International Airport on Jan. 24. The CECC purchased 10,000 doses. The mediation is suitable for treating mild to moderate cases within five days of onset.

The first batch of Merck's oral COVID-19 medication procured by Taiwan arrived at Taoyuan International Airport at 5:18 a.m. on Jan. 24 from Chicago aboard an EVA Air cargo plane. The flight was scheduled to arrive on Jan. 23, but was delayed due to aviation safety concerns over the U.S.' 5G rollout. The Central Epidemic Command Center purchased a total of 10,000 doses. Clinical trials showed the medication is suitable for treating adults with mild to moderate cases at risk of severe illness within five days of onset and who are not clinically suitable for other treatment methods.

Lee Ping-ing, Member, Specialist Advisory Panel, CECC: “The suitable targets are mild cases within five days of onset, because antiviral drugs should be immediately used to inhibit viral replication during the first few days after infection to see a healing effect. If the case has already progressed into an acute case and the five days have passed, then the efficacy won't be as noticeable.”

Huang Li-min, Honorary Chair, Infectious Diseases Society of Taiwan: “It can be used at quarantine hotels or centralized quarantine facilities. If doctors determine people have risk factors and they meet the criteria set by the central government, then these people can isolate while taking the medicine.”

The domestic epidemic situation is worsening rapidly. CECC member Lee Ping-ing said Taiwan is currently going through a transition period where communities and the virus co-exist. The basic condition for co-existence is that the number of acute cases and mortality rate do not exceed those of the flu. The flu's mortality rate is less than one per thousand. The key lies with the 20 percent of people who are unvaccinated. There are many active transmission chains with unknown origins. Doctors say epidemic investigations are using up a lot of medical resources.

Chiang Kuan-yu, Doctor, Taipei City Hospital: “These epidemic investigations are consuming a huge amount of epidemic investigation personnel. We can see how much they can accomplish, but we're very worried about when it will become unsustainable.”

Many people will be returning home for the Lunar New Year and gathering with family. Doctors urge people to avoid going to public places and gatherings.