Health Ministry needs more tests before bringing in drug from Japan

Health Ministry needs more tests before bringing in drug from Japan

The Health Ministry will consider bringing in the drug Avigan from Japan to treat Covid-19, but more it would have to be monitored for potential side effects.

Health Ministry director-general Datuk Seri Noor Hisham Abdullah said the drug was not registered at the moment but with his approval, it could be brought in.

"We have to do research first because the drug has side effects," he said on Wednesday (March 25) during a daily press conference on the latest Covid-19 situation in the country.

He added that in the event they do use the drug, they would have to closely monitor for these side effects.

Dr Noor Hisham was asked if Malaysia would bring in the drug, also known as Firaparavir, which is claimed to be effective in treating Covid-19 symptoms.

He also said that Malaysia was expected to increase its capacity of Covid-19 testing to 16,000 samples daily by next week. Currently, they are able to test 6,000 samples a day.

He said that they would attempt to verify the rapid mass test kit for antigens on Friday (March 27), which could further increase testing capabilities.

When asked about a study done by JP Morgan which expected cases to peak at 6,300 in mid-April, Dr Noor Hisham said they were hoping that the movement control order (MCO) and the Ministry's ongoing activities would be able to prevent this.

"We hope that with our steps, we can reduce the number of cases so it doesn't reach 6,000. That is our target, to flatten the curve. If we are able to do that, our medical services can cope with the cases," he said.