As of Monday 17 January, Molnupiravir 200mg, a medication designed to help avoid the likelihood of severe coronavirus infection and hospitalisation, can be prescribed through the national health system (GeSY) in adult cases with mild symptoms of the disease. According to the Minister of Health, Michael Hadjipantela, Cyprus is one of the first countries in the EU to have purchased and distributed this medication to its citizens.
Helena Panayiotopoulou, Deputy Director of Pharmaceutical Services, said that the medication is recommended for people over 65 years of age and can be administered to special categories of vulnerable groups of the population.
She added that it is to be taken no later than the fifth day following the symptoms’ onset or the positive diagnosis of laboratory tests, with four capsules taken in the morning and four in the evening for five days.
Panayiotopoulou said that adverse reactions after administration are not of concern and include mild dizziness, headache and intestinal disorders, noting that the medication developed by Pfizer will be available in February.
In response to a question, she commented that Molnupiravir can be administered regardless of the person’s vaccination history, while it is not administered to persons under 18 years of age, nor to pregnant women or women of childbearing age who may become pregnant and who are not using effective contraception. Breast-feeding should also be discontinued during treatment and for four days after treatment.
Panayiotopoulou noted that the medicinal product is currently being evaluated by the European Medicines Agency, which nevertheless recommends its use specifically for people considered to be at high risk of serious coronavirus infection, “making it available on an emergency basis, given the protection it has been shown to offer through the clinical trials that have been conducted”.
She highlighted that its administration "has been shown to reduce the risk of serious disease or death in people affected by Covid-19, from 14.1% in people taking placebo to 7.3% in people taking Molnupiravir, from a total of 775 participants".
Panayiotopoulou said that high-risk factors include pre-existing chronic respiratory disease, severe pulmonary hypertension, severe pulmonary fibrosis, pneumonectomy/ lobectomy, severe chronic kidney disease, cardiac arrhythmia with permanent defibrillator or heart disease with permanent defibrillator and biventricular pacemaker.
Other high-risk factors are heart failure of any aetiology of NYHA stage III or IV, cardiovascular disease and recent acute coronary syndrome or revascularisation surgery, angioplasty or stent implantation in the past 12 months, aorto-coronary bypass in the past 12 months, and a recent stroke in the past 12 months or with established neurologic semiology.
Panayiotopoulou said that Molnupiravir can be administered by personal physicians, general practitioners, physicians specialising in infectious diseases, pulmonologists, haematologists, medical oncologists, cardiologists, nephrologists, nephrologists, neurologists, rheumatologists, endocrinologists and geriatricians.
She added that it has already been launched in the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic and that other European countries are expected to follow suit.
In his address, the Minister of Health said that "as of today, our country has this drug, which contributes to the therapeutic response to the pandemic and protects patients at high risk of severe Covid-19 disease."
He noted that "since the beginning of the pandemic, the Ministry of Health has been aiming to effectively address the coronavirus, seeking to protecting the population and our vulnerable groups."
Hadjipantela assured that "as the Ministry of Health, we are constantly vigilant about new vaccines and new treatments against Covid-19 and we are actively involved in all collaborative efforts to ensure that new vaccines and medicines against Covid-19 are secured as soon as possible".
"For us, both the prevention and the treatment of coronavirus are valuable tools in our efforts to safeguard public health and return to normalcy as quickly as possible."