Putrajaya has entered an agreement to procure "breakthrough" COVID-19 drug Molnupiravir.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in a statement today that the government has signed a letter of undertaking with Merck Sharp & Dohme, to buy 150,000 patient courses of the antiviral pill.

"Research by Merck Sharp & Dohme found that Molnupiravir can reduce hospitalisation and works against COVID-19 variants such as Gamma, Delta, and Mu," he added.

Molnupiravir can only be used to treat COVID-19 patients, and cannot be used for preventine purposes. Vaccines are still needed to reduce the risk of infection.

It works by introducing errors into the genetic code of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, and has been hailed as a potential "breakthough" in the battle against the virus.

Several countries, including Singapore and Thailand, have already signed deals to purchase the pill, which is the first oral medication for COVID-19.

Molnupiravir is manufactured by Merck, a 130-year-old US-based multinational pharmaceutical company.

As of yesterday, more than 2.3 million people in the country have been stricken with COVID-19, and over 26,981 people have died from it.

The global coronavirus infection and death tally, meanwhile, has surpassed 237 million, and 4.84 million, respectively.

Photo source: Berita Harian.