In a recent study performed by German multinational company Merck, new medication has proven to cut the risk of hospitalization or death of patients that contract coronavirus by 50 percent. Together with Ridgeback biotherapeutics, an American biotechnology company, they plan on requesting an emergency-use authorization for the antiviral drug.
Known as Molnupiravir, this new medication would be the first oral treatment approved to administer Covid-19 cases. Intended to treat mild to moderate cases of the disease in adults, the pill could be especially beneficial to patients who are at risk from other factors such as obesity, diabetes, or heart disease.
The drug was tested on a group of unvaccinated patients, approximately 5 days after the infection or once symptoms were presented. The course of treatment consisted of a daily dose of 8 pills, during a five-day period. The results of the clinical trial, published on October 1st, showed that the drug had been successful in reducing the risk of death or hospitalization by nearly half. The possibility of an oral antiviral would not only be extremely beneficial to patients at risk, but it would also release a lot of the pressure on healthcare systems. Currently, the only other antiviral treatments for Covid have to be supplied intravenously, which requires hospitalization. An oral alternative would therefore spare hospital beds and extra labor from healthcare workers.
Although the approval of this medication would greatly alleviate the damage inflicted by the coronavirus infection, scientists continue to emphasize the importance of the vaccine to prepare the body’s immune system. The drug should not be seen as an alternative to the vaccine, but rather as a tool to help with treatment.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already announced that their advisory committee will be meeting on November 30th to discuss the data supporting the use of Molnupiravir to treat mild-to-moderate cases of Covid-19.