South Korea has agreed to buy 70,000 courses of Pfizer Inc.’s experimental antiviral COVID-19 pill, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said over the weekend.

Pfizer on Friday said trial results showed that its Paxlovid pill reduced by 89% the risk of hospitalization or death in patients at high risk of severe illness within three days of the onset of coronavirus symptoms.

 

South Korea has already signed agreements to secure 200,000 courses of Merck & Co. Inc.’s COVID-19 treatment. It is looking to buy an additional 134,000 courses, though it is undecided of which treatment, KDCA said.

Last month, the government said it was in talks with Swiss pharmaceutical Roche Holding AG, which is developing an easy-to-administer antiviral pill for COVID-19.

The government had allocated a budget of 36.2 billion won ($30.63 million) for oral COVID-19 antiviral pills.

Pfizer is in talks with 90 countries over supply contracts for Paxlovid, Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said in an interview on Friday.

The U.K. has already secured 480,000 courses of Merck’s drug and procured 250,000 courses of the Pfizer treatment.

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