Nations struggling to get COVID vaccines will also likely wait longer for new treatments

·1 min read

The same countries that have struggled to obtain coronavirus vaccines will also have to wait longer for new treatments, the WSJ reports.

Why it matters: These pills could keep unvaccinated people out of the hospital if taken soon after a person becomes infected with the virus.

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Between the lines: Pfizer and Merck, the companies developing the treatments, have licensed their formulas so generic companies can sell them at a much lower price.

  • But low-income countries may still struggle to pay the generic prices, and generic manufacturers still need several months to ramp up production.

  • For the pills to work, they need to be administered within days after a person develops symptoms. But many low-income countries also have inadequate testing systems, which will make it difficult to catch cases early enough.

The bottom line: The Omicron variant is probably about to drive a new wave of COVID cases around the world, but the most vulnerable parts of the world won't have access to these treatment options any time soon.

  • Yes, but: If Omicron causes less severe disease — which some scientists believe will be the case — that would make the scenario much less dire.

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