Tue, 07 Dec 2021

CANBERRA, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has secured access to two new COVID-19 treatments as the country continues to battle the third wave of infections.

Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday announced the government has purchased 15,000 doses of the antibody-based therapy, Ronapreve, which can be administered intravenously for COVID-19 patients in a health care facility and is expected to be targeted for use in unvaccinated people who are at risk of developing severe disease.

If approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Ronapreve will be available to Australian patients by the end of October.

Clinical trials have shown it can reduce the likelihood of hospitalization and death among COVID-19 patients by up to 70 percent, according to the media release on Sunday.

The government has also secured access to 500,000 treatment courses of Pfizer's COVID-19 oral antiviral drug, to be used in combination with the protease inhibitor drug Ritonavir, subject to regulatory approval by the TGA.

Paul Kelly, Australia's Chief Medical Officer, said adding treatments to the National Medical Stockpile was necessary as the country opens up and learns to live with the virus.

"During 2020 and for a large part of 2021, we've very heavily relied on those non-pharmaceutical interventions -- the public health and social measures including lockdowns," he told reporters on Sunday.

"There are ways of preventing the illness, and absolutely the first way and the most important way for that is vaccination," he said. "But there are now treatments that are being developed, antiviral treatments that will actually assist to prevent infection, or prevent even mild or asymptomatic infection and disease."

Kelly also announced that quarantine-free travel from New Zealand's South Island to Australia will resume from Wednesday.

Australia on Sunday reported more than 2,100 new locally-acquired COVID-19 infections and 17 deaths from the pandemic.

As of Saturday 84.6 percent of Australians aged 16 and over have received one coronavirus vaccine dose and 67.8 percent were fully inoculated, according to the latest data released by the Department of Health.

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