The Ministry of Health (MoH) has advised asymptomatic COVID-19 patients to not use Molnupiravir as part of their treatment.
The MoH said Molnupiravir should only be used to treat mild to moderate cases in patients with at least one risk factor for severe disease progression.
The medicine should only be used by COVID-19 patients with symptoms that have developed for five days or less, and Molnupiravir should not be used for more than five days consecutively. In particular, it should not be used for post or pre-exposure prophylaxis.
The advice came after local medical units reported that people have been flocking to buy the medicine to store in advance, or by people with COVID but without symptoms.
The ministry said that COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms should use the medicine when their saturation of peripheral oxygen (SpO2) is higher than 96% and the respiratory rate is less than 20 times per minute.
Those with moderate symptoms should use the medicine when the SpO2 is at 94%-96%, the respiratory rate is 20-25 times per minute, and when an x-ray lung lesion shows less than 50%.
Those with underlying diseases can also use the medicine, the ministry said.
The dosage of the medicine is 800mg, two times a day, over five days.
Molnupiravir is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Breastfeeding women are told to not breastfeed while using the medicine and for four days after the last dose of Molnupiravir.
The medicine should also not be used on COVID-19 patients under 18 years old, as it can affect the development of bones and cartilage.
Molnupiravir can affect sperm in men, therefore, a reliable method of contraception should be used during treatment and for at least three months after the last dose of Molnupiravir.