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A New Covid-19 Antiviral Pill Might Combat New Variants

( – COVID-19 has caused people and businesses to go to extremes. Some individuals have gone as far as to try experimental treatments in an effort to avoid becoming infected with the virus. Of course, some have become actual procedures. 

Protecting Against COVID-19

People from all over the globe know just how severe coronavirus can be. With new variants of the virus prevalent in several parts of the world, fighting COVID-19 has never been more significant. Merck, a pharmaceutical company, claims that a pill it designed is effective against the virus and its varying strains, including Delta. The company doesn’t just believe its medication is effective. Merck says it has proof in lab studies. 

The Drug

The medication, molnupiravir, is the work of a co-op between Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Merck explains that the experimental treatment doesn’t target the spike proteins of the virus, which determines the variant of COVID. Instead, molnupiravir goes after an enzyme, polymerase, which allows the virus to duplicate itself and produce genetic copies. 

If what Merck says is true, the new medication will help treat COVID-19 despite which variant a person has. Molnupiravir is currently in late-stage trials, but the Biden administration has stated it plans to buy 1.7 million courses of the drug should the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve its use. 

The Study

Merck examined patients with COVID-19 in early 2021 and found that none of them, despite varying doses, had traces of the virus after a five-day treatment. The drug company noted that placebo patients didn’t perform as well, with 24% showing some level of the virus. 

Merck admitted it hadn’t initially tested the drug for its effectiveness against the Delta variant, as the alternate form wasn’t as widespread. After the latest surge of Delta, Merck tried molnupiravir against the deadly variant with remarkable success. Data from the studies indicate that the treatment works best when patients receive it in the early stages of infection.

Moving Forward

Molnupiravir is currently entering phase III trials, according to Merck. The company noted there will be two third phase trials as they work with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to create both a treatment and a preventative for all COVID-19 variants.

Merck expects to complete the molnupiravir trials by early November. Patients in the newest and final trials of the drug must have had COVID-19 symptoms for fewer than five days, with no history of hospitalization for the condition, and be at risk of developing severe disease. 

Will this potential treatment receive the same backlash as the vaccine, or will people be more open to the five-day therapy? If Merck can prove this drug’s effectiveness and get it approved by the FDA, it could be a game-changer.

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