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October 21, 2021

Coronavirus company news summary – UK signs deals for supply of Merck and Pfizer antivirals – FDA authorises booster doses of J&J and Moderna vaccines

By Chris Lo

The UK Government has entered deals to procure two Covid-19 antiviral therapies developed by Merck and Pfizer, subject to regulatory approval. The government secured 480,000 courses of MSD’s molnupiravir, which in a Phase III trial reduced the risk of hospitalisation or mortality by 50% in mild to moderate Covid-19 patients. Nearly 250,000 courses of Pfizer’s PF-07321332/ritonavir were also acquired.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to booster doses of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines. J&J’s shot is cleared for administration in adults aged 18 and above at least two months after the first dose. Eligible individuals who received a different authorised or approved Covid-19 vaccine can also receive the booster shot. A 50µg dose of Moderna’s shot, mRNA-1273, can be administered as a booster dose at least six months after the initial regimen in people aged 65 years and above. Higher-risk adults aged 18 to 64 years and people who are frequently exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus through their work can also receive the shot.

The US government has outlined plans to inoculate children aged five to 11 years after Covid-19 shots are authorised for usage in this age group. Clinics will be set up in over 100 children’s hospital systems around the country, as well as physicians’ offices, pharmacies and schools, Reuters reported. The plan is intended to ensure a quick rollout if Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine is authorised for the younger age group.

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