The World Health Organization is awaiting full clinical data on the antiviral pill made by Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients, a WHO spokesperson said on Tuesday, a day after the company said it had applied for US emergency use authorisation.

WHO Spokesperson Christian Lindmeier, asked at a UN briefing in Geneva about the drug, said: “Indeed, this is an interesting development. We would have to see the full data about it. If it holds true, then it is another weapon in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The treatment, molnupiravir, cut the rate of hospitalisation and death by 50% in a trial of mild-to-moderately ill patients who had at least one risk factor for the disease, according to data released this month.

LATEST ON THE WORLDWIDE SPREAD OF THE CORONAVIRUS 

Meanwhile, drugmakers may face stricter rules to ensure the supply of medicines in the European Union, officials said, as the bloc tries to reduce its imports of pharmaceutical products from China and other foreign “autocracies”. 
 
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS 
 
EUROPE

* Russia reported 973 coronavirus-related deaths, its highest single-day toll since the start of the pandemic, and the government voiced concern at the pace and intensity of newi nfections. 
 
* Norway should sharply cut spending from its $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund in 2022 as the economy rebounds from the pandemic, the outgoing centre-right minority government told parliament. 
 
* The delay to England’s first lockdown was a serious error based on groupthink that went unchallenged, lawmakers said in are port, adding that failures in testing positive cases and tracing their contacts exacerbated the crisis. 
 
AMERICAS 
 
* Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott, responding to what he called “bullying” by the Biden Administration, on Monday barred vaccine mandates in the state by any entity. 
 
ASIA-PACIFIC 
* The Japanese government is working on starting booster shots by year-end, deputy chief cabinet secretary YoshihikoIsozaki said. 
 
* South Korea will donate 1.1 mln doses of Astra Zeneca’s vaccine to Vietnam and 470,000 doses to Thailand, theKorea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said. 
 
* New Zealand expects to administer a record 100,000 vaccine doses in a single day during a mass immunisation drive on Oct.16, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. 
 
MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS 
 
* India recommended emergency use of Bharat Biotech’sCOVID-19 shot in the 2 to 18 age-group, as the world’s second-most populous nation expands its vaccination drive to include children. 
 
* CureVac will withdraw its first-generation vaccine candidate and focus on collaborating with GSK to develop second-generation mRNA vaccine technology instead, the Germany-based biotechnology company said. 
 
* The World Health Organization is awaiting full clinical data on the antiviral pill made by Merck to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients, a spokesperson said. 
 
* Merck announced plans to double supply of molnupiravir, its COVID-19 antiviral pill, on rising demand, the Financial Times reported. 
 
ECONOMIC IMPACT 
 
* Signs that soaring energy prices are putting a dampener on economic growth kept a lid on global stock market gains, while inflation and policy-tightening fears sent short-dated US Treasury yields to 18-month highs. 
 
* The European Central Bank should keep some of the flexibility offered under its pandemic asset purchase programme when it returns to more conventional policy, ECB policymaker Francois Villeroy de Galhau said.