New Zealanders who have caught Covid-19 now have access to several different medicines to help prevent the risk of severe sickness or death.
On Thursday, Health Minister Andrew Little announced the first shipment of molnupiravir had arrived. This is the second oral anti-viral Covid-19 medicine in the country.
"Anti-virals stop people with mild Covid-19 symptoms from becoming very sick and needing to go to hospital, and because they are pills, they are easy for people to take at home," Little said.
Molnupirav was approved by Medsafe earlier this month and is a course of four tablets, taken every 12 hours for five days.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
"Vaccination is still our first and best line of defence, but it is important to have a range of treatments available for people who contract Covid-19 and are at risk of becoming seriously ill," Little said.
Currently, Baricitinib, Ronapreve, Remdesivir and Tocilizumab are being used in hospitals and Paxlovid has rolled out to be used to treat people at home.
"Adding molnupiravir into the mix means doctors have got a range of medicines to combat the worst symptoms of Covid-19 and protect people who are immunocompromised or have complex health conditions. It also helps prevent the health system from being overwhelmed," Little said.
Like Paxlovid, not everyone is eligible for Molnupiravir, immunocompromised people and those with existing health conditions who have tested positive can contact their GP for an assessment.
So far, 800 courses of Paxlovid have been dispensed.