Australians will soon have access to a new Covid-19 treatment in the form of a pill.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Monday that 300,000 courses of the promising oral antiviral Covid-19 treatment Molnupiravir had been purchased by the Government.
Molnupiravir has been shown to prevent people with Covid-19 developing serious symptoms, with a recent trial finding the new pill reduced the risk of hospitalisation or death from Covid by 50 per cent.
Morrison said once the treatment was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Molnupiravir would join Australia's main line of defence against Covid-19.
"Vaccines and new treatments like this will boost our National Plan to safely reopen Australia and keep Australia safely open," Morrison said on Monday.
"While our vaccination rate continues to climb, we've been investing in and closely monitoring research into Covid-19 treatments and we are securing supply of promising treatments.
"If the medical experts at the TGA approve this treatment for use, it will join other Covid-19 treatments such as sotrovimab and remdesivir which are already available to Australian doctors to help treat those with Covid-19."
The treatment won't be considered for registration by the drug regulator until later in the year.
The pill was originally developed to treat influenza and is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus, preventing it from spreading in the body.
Early results of the clinical trial suggest patients who received the pill within five days of first displaying symptoms gain the greatest benefit.
Of the 775 patients who participated in the study, less than 8 per cent of those given molnupiravir were hospitalised, compared with 14 per cent who were given a dummy pill.
There were no deaths in the patients who were given the pill, while eight patients who received the placebo later died of Covid.