(Reuters) – Merck & Co Inc and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said on Tuesday they had signed an agreement with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to supply up to 3 million courses of their COVID-19 antiviral pill.
Merck would supply the pill, molnupiravir, to UNICEF through the first half of 2022 for distribution in more than 100 low- and middle-income countries upon regulatory authorizations, the companies said.
The pill received authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December and has also been authorized in several other countries including India, Mexico and the UK. Many countries have signed supply deals with Merck for the drug.
Merck said in January it expects molnupiravir to be effective against the highly contagious Omicron variant, which has driven a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the world.
(Reporting by Manas Mishra and Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)