Bill Gates says he is ‘hopeful’ for return to normality by end of 2022

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According to the drug’s manufacturer, Merck, the drug reduces the risk of hospitalisation if taken within days of infection. Developed in a US lab, the wonderpill may even help lower the risk of death from COVID-19. The Gates Foundation will release funds to help other companies develop cheaper, generic forms of the drug.

Countries like India stand to benefit from the move and Merck has already granted the necessary licenses.

Melinda French, the foundation’s co-chair and Bill Gates’s former wife, said: “To end this pandemic, we need to ensure that everyone, no matter where they live in the world, has access to life-saving health products

“The unjust reality, however, is that low-income countries have had to wait for everything from personal protective equipment to vaccines. That is unacceptable.

“Today’s commitment will ensure that more people in more countries get access to the promising drug molnupiravir, but it’s not the end of the story—we need other donors, including foundations and governments, to act.”

The Covid drug is administered in tablet form, making it an easier, temporary alternative to vaccines.

The pill is being reviewed for approval in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Initial data published by Merck suggest the drug reduces the risk of serious disease and death from Covid by half.

If approved, it would be the first oral outpatient drug to treat patients suffering from mild and moderate infections.

According to the foundation, the breakthrough will help reduce the strain on hospitals and save lives.

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