UNICEF has delivered a batch of molnupiravir, an oral antiviral treatment for mild-to-moderate Covid-19 in adults, to further support the Cambodian government in its fight against the pandemic.

The shipment of 826,560 tablets touched down at Phnom Penh International Airport on the night of August 17.

“The supply is enough to treat 20,664 people affected by the virus in Cambodia. Funding was provided by UNICEF’s ACT-A Supplies Financing Facility [ACT-A SFF], with contributions from the Canadian government," the UN body said in a statement.

"The ACT-A SFF is a UNICEF-housed fund dedicated to supporting low- and middle-income countries to equitably access key Covid-19 supplies, such as Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines."

UNICEF noted that molnupiravir helps lower the risk of severe infection, especially among vulnerable groups including the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.

It said the pills will be made available for eligible patients through designated health facilities in the country.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) included molnupiravir in its Covid-19 therapeutics guidelines in early March of this year.

But due to insufficient safety data, WHO recommended that the medication be administered "only to non-severe Covid-19 patients with the highest risk of hospitalisation". They include people who have not been vaccinated for Covid-19, those with immunodeficiencies and the above-mentioned vulnerable groups.

Children and pregnant women as well as breastfeeding mothers should not be given the drug, it noted.