Molnupiravir has been shown in studies to reduce newly-infected Covid19 patients. This is an experimental oral antiviral drug from Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck. According to the company’s press release, their study showed promising results.
Three hundred and seventy-seven patients got a placebo and 14.1% of them ended up hospitalized or as fatalities. On the other hand, 385 people got the antiviral pill and only 7.3% of them got confined or died.
United States President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor, Anthony Fauci, says “the data is impressive.”
While trial data has not been fully released and neither published nor peer-reviewed, Merck already plans to get authorization from the American Food and Drug Administration. If the US FDA grants that, Molnupiravir will be the first oral antiviral treatment against Covid19. Antiviral treatments are treatments that kill or inhibit microorganisms like fungi, bacteria, or a virus.
If Molnupiravir gets a clear go-signal, there are already 1.7 million courses that have been procured by the US. When it comes to low- and middle- income countries, Unitaid (a global health agency) is trying to fix a partnership to supply them.
“This is the most impactful result that I remember seeing of an orally available drug,” for US FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told Anderson Cooper on CNN, “in the treatment of a respiratory pathogen, perhaps ever.”
At the moment, Gilead Science’s antiviral Remdesivir is the only US FDA-approved Covid19 treatment. It’s given through intravenous infusion, generally sold as Veklury. Studies on it give mixed results, and it doesn’t necessarily work for Covid19 patients.
Despite all of this, experts highlight that it is not a miracle cure. Moreover, it should not be used as a replacement for vaccines–instead, the antiviral should be a complement instead.