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Moves by several countries to acquire supplies of Merck & Co.’s promising COVID-19 pill before it’s even approved are raising concerns that some poorer nations could be left behind in a repeat of the slow and inequitable rollout of vaccines.

A global initiative to deploy COVID-19 therapies like Merck’s molnupiravir is at risk of running into the same problems vaccine distribution faced, according to an independent report commissioned by the World Health Organization.

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