Landspítali to Obtain New Weapons Against COVID-19

Vala Hafstað

Preparations are underway at Landspítali National University Hospital to obtain the antiviral medication Molnupiravir, used to treat COVID-19, Runólfur Pálsson, acting managing director of the hospital’s treatment division, tells Morgunblaðið. The Icelandic Ministry of Health is looking into purchasing 1,500 doses of the medication.

“I expect it to arrive soon,” Runólfur states.

So far, the hospital has used the medicine Ronapreve, and on Friday, health authorities decided to purchase 72 doses of the medicine Sotrovimab. Both of those consist of monoclonal antibodies, which prevent the coronavirus from entering the body’s cells, and both medicines need to be administered after dilution by intravenous infusion.

Molnupiravar, by contrast, is an antiviral medication, which inhibits the replication of the coronavirus in the body’s cells, Runólfur explains. Besides, it can be administered orally in the form of a tablet. “The virus is able to enter the cells, but the medication inhibits the replication of the virus right there,” he adds.

“All those medicines are intended to decrease the severity of COVID-19-related illness,” Runólfur states. “Research has shown that those medicines drastically reduce the incidence of hospitalization and death among high-risk patients if given shortly after the patient falls ill.”

Runólfur states that Molnupiravir resembles a recently announced medicine from Pfizer — an oral antiviral medicine, too.  “But Molnupiravir is the one closest to coming into use,” he adds and admits that all the medicines mentioned above are very expensive.

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