Paxlovid: Is Africa Ready For The New Phase Of Covid-19 Treatment?

In November 2021, a mid-to-late stage study showed that an antiviral medication was nearly 90% effective in preventing hospitalisations and deaths in adults at high risk of severe illness.

By December, the Paxlovid was cleared for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in America and is now used to treat Covid-19 for anyone aged 12 and older who weighs at least 88 pounds and is at high risk for severe disease. 

Nearly 6 months later, Africa CDC confirmed that persons at high risk for severe symptoms would now be able to access the Paxlovid on the continent after a successful deal with Pfizer.

 The Africa CDC recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Pfizer for countries in the continent to receive supplies of the Paxlovid pill to treat COVID-19 at a cost.

What is not clear is how much the treatment course would cost and how Africa plans on shouldering the cost.

According to data from Goodrx.com, the American government purchased the Paxlovid at $530 per course but the government is distributing it for free. Also, the report added that 20 million treatment courses were made available for purchase by the U.S. government via a $10.6B contract with Pfizer. 

In December 2021, the UK government purchased 2.5million worth of Pfizer‘s Paxlovid at about £525 ($700) for one course of the treatment, making the treatment available at no cost to the people.

For now, there are no known payment plans for countries in Africa, especially low-income ones struggling with hunger and natural disasters, leaving the question of accessibility and affordability.

If Africa successfully imports the much-needed Paxlovid, can people in low-income countries who need it be able to afford or access it or would this move further compound inequities in access to vaccines and treatments?

Patsy Nwogu

Reporting on data-driven featured stories and investigations.

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