10,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 drug arrive in epidemic-hit Jilin frontlines
Published: Mar 21, 2022 09:54 PM
Citizens line up for nucleic acid test at a testing site in Changchun, northeast China's Jilin Province, March 20, 2022. Photo:Xinhua

Citizens line up for nucleic acid test at a testing site in Changchun, northeast China's Jilin Province, March 20, 2022. Photo:Xinhua

Epidemic-hit Jilin Province in Northeast China has received and distributed 10,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 treatment drug Paxlovid to the anti-epidemic frontlines, the first batch of this coronavirus oral pill to be used in the Chinese mainland after gaining approval. 

The batch of 10,000 doses arrived at Jilin on Sunday night and they will be distributed to different regions in accordance with the scheme made by the provincial health commission, Song Xiaohui from the Jilin Province Department of Industry and Information Technology said at Monday's press conference. 

It is the first time that the drug is being used in the Chinese mainland, after it was included in the latest COVID-19 treatment playbook and gained conditional approval in February. 

Experts believed the arrival of Paxlovid to Jilin will boost the public's confidence amid COVID-19 resurgences, because it offers an additional option for hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients. 

Jilin reported 1,542 confirmed cases on Sunday, including three severe cases and two critical cases. Another 549 silent virus carriers were detected, according to the provincial health commission on Monday. 

The Jilin provincial People's Hospital said on Sunday that it has 17 severe cases, whose situations are not severe except that they are older people with underlying diseases. The age of the patients ranges from 45 days to 89 years old.  

About 98 percent of Jilin's COVID-19 patients are mild cases as a considerable proportion of people have been vaccinated, which has effectively reduced the risk of hospitalization, severe illness and death caused by the Omicron variant, an official from the provincial health commission said on Monday. 

Zhang Yuexin, a medical expert specializing in epidemic prevention and control, told the Global Times on Monday that the drug is not useful for general mild cases, but the adoption of Paxlovid in the clinical treatment of COVID-19 patients will complement China's already successful treatment methods by providing a needed pill for those with underlying diseases if they are inclined to develop more severe symptoms. 

"I think Paxlovid can play an active role in treating and boosting the confidence of high-risk people - the elderly and those with underlying health conditions," Li Luyao, a traditional Chinese physician in a private clinic who now works as a volunteer at a makeshift hospital that has 1,198 beds for patients in Jilin city, told the Global Times on Monday.

According to the National Medical Products Administration, Paxlovid will be used to treat adult patients who have mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms with a high risk of experiencing a severe case. These individuals include especially those who have underlying problems like chronic kidney disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic lung disease. 

The first batch of more than 20,000 boxes of imported Paxlovid arrived in China through Shanghai Customs on Thursday evening, and they were distributed to multiple locations to help treat COVID-19 patients. 

Another 1,000 boxes arrived at the medical supply base for combating COVID-19 in Shanghai on Sunday night, and they were urgently delivered to Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center at once for clinical treatment.