Taiwan orders Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill as infections rise

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The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment pill Paxlovid is seen in boxes, at the Misericordia hospital in Grosseto, Italy, February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

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TAIPEI, April 11 (Reuters) – Taiwan has ordered 700,000 units of Paxlovid, the COVID-19 antiviral pill from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), its health minister said on Monday, amid steadily rising numbers of infections, as promised by the government. to gradually reopen its borders.

Taiwan has brought the pandemic under control well with strict and early control measures. But daily infections have increased in recent weeks, with 439 new cases reported on Monday, the second highest daily increase this year.

The government is on high alert even though the numbers remain relatively low and data from the Department of Health shows that 99.6% of those infected so far this year have had mild or no symptoms.

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Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said the pills ordered would be enough to cover 3% of Taiwan’s population, with half of them expected to arrive in the second quarter of this year.

“The drug could prevent serious disease and is very useful for the overall prevention of the pandemic,” Chen told reporters.

Since the start of this year, Taiwan has reported 3,976 cases nationwide, with only 13 people classified as seriously ill and just two deaths.

Taiwan has maintained mandatory mask-wearing and nearly 80% of the population has received two vaccines while more than 50% have received three.

It is gradually easing quarantine rules for all arrivals to the island, but most foreigners except residents are still barred from entering.

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Reporting by Yimou Lee; edited by Philippa Fletcher

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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