Saturday’s Yomiuri, Asahi, Mainichi, and Sankei wrote that MSD K.K., a subsidiary of U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., filed an application for approval of the oral coronavirus treatment molnupiravir with the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on Friday. The risk of serious illness can reportedly be reduced when people with mild symptoms take the antiviral drug early in the course of the disease. If approved, this will be the first oral drug to be used in Japan for the treatment of the novel coronavirus. The treatment has already been approved in the UK. The company said molnupiravir is likely to be effective against the new Omicron variant of COVID-19. The GOJ has agreed to receive a supply of 1.6 million doses based on the assumption that the regulatory authority will swiftly approve the drug. The government is hoping that the drug will be available for practical use this year.