Government has received the first batch of the antiviral drug, remdesivir, which has been globally touted as making a difference in the management of severe Covid-19 cases.
The drug was first issued by the United States Food and Drug Administration in May after a study showed it shortened recovery time in Covid-19 patients.
Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said there are encouraging supportive treatments that can improve survival when people become very sick with Covid-19.
He added remdesivir was considered the most effective in the world at the moment.
According to Shangula, the stock arrived in the country last week Monday.
“We received it from the supplier, and it is in the Central Medical Store. It is also used to treat Covid-19. It is not a new drug. We advertised the tender, and somebody got a contract to supply and are now supplying the drug,” Shangula told New Era yesterday.
The drug, produced by Gilead Sciences, can be used in adults and adolescents from 12 years of age who are also suffering from pneumonia and require oxygen support.
In May this year, US President Donald Trump announced that the investigational antiviral drug was authorised by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use to treat suspected or laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 in adults and children hospitalised with severe disease.
Shangula last week noted the country is being kept abreast of developments around vaccine trials for Covid-19.
To this end, he said, Namibia has been engaging the international community regarding the development of a Covid-19 vaccine in recent months and weeks.
Through the COVAX Facility, Shangula said, the government has participated in several meetings and interactions on this matter.
“More information will be provided to the public in the coming weeks through regular updates on this process. As we pursue this matter, we are motivated by one thing and one thing only: to ensure that when a safe and effective vaccine becomes available, the Namibian people should be able to access it,” Shangula said.
He called on Namibians to alter behaviour that propagates the transmission of the coronavirus, adding that everyone has to take their destiny in their own hands as far as possible.
“The only ‘vaccine’ currently available is a combination of social distancing, wearing of masks in public places, frequent hand washing and sanitising. Limiting unnecessary travel makes this “vaccine” efficacious.”
Shangula added government allocated and availed significant resources for the Covid-19 national prepredness and response, administered mainly by the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
The health minister last week also stated the authorities have implemented measures to tackle the decongestion around the Robert Mugabe clinic, which is the only public testing centre in Windhoek.
Shangula said the ministry has implemented measures to decongest the facility by establishing additional four points around Windhoek where samples for Covid-19 testing can be collected.
The three points are located in different constituencies around the City of Windhoek to minimise long distances that members of the public have to travel to access these services.
He emphasised that it is strictly discouraged for employers to send their employees to Robert Mugabe clinic to collect their results, as this has caused congestion at the facility with little regards to public health measures.
“An alternative way is being explored for disclosure of negative results that will not require the presence of an individual. Positive results will continue to be disclosed in person with accompanying psychosocial support,” he indicated.