BERLIN, Germany: Karl Lauterbach, Germany's health minister, has said that he will encourage family doctors to issue more prescriptions for Pfizer's oral COVID-19 antiviral treatment, Paxlovid, to reduce the number of severe Covid cases nationwide.
Writing on Twitter he said, "A system involving family doctors will be prepared to administer this far too rarely-used COVID life saver more routinely," adding that sufficient stockpiles were available throughout Germany.
Paxlovid, which received conditional European marketing approval in January, is being distributed among those who are at high risk of severe illness from Covid.
Lauterbach, a member of the centre-left SPD, noted that trial results showed oral treatments given early after a patient has become infected can reduce the risk of hospitalization in the elderly by 90 percent.
Meanwhile, Pfizer has said that it is seeking full approval in the U.S. for Paxlovid, which currently only has emergency use authorization.
Driven by more infectious sub-variants of the Omicron virus, death and intensive care treatments after COVID-19 infections have been increasing again in Germany, as of late June.
However, the drug was not found to ease Covid symptoms among younger adults.
German chancellor Olaf Scholz, also an SPD member, said if infection rates rose significantly this year, schools and non-essential businesses would not be closed again, but that face masks would be worn more often.