Updated on: Thursday, October 21, 2021, 05:12 AM IST

Everything you need to know about Molnupiravir, the new Covid-19 drug

Once authorised, it might become the first oral medication to treat coronavirus
Pic: Pexels

Pic: Pexels


With raising hope to tackle Covid-19 in the early stage of disease among patients, a new experimental drug called Molnupiravir has shown much scope. An interim analysis of a late-stage clinical trial revealed that this drug can reduce the risk of hospitalisation or death by 50 per cent.

If it gets authorisation, Molnupiravir, which is designed to introduce errors into the virus’s genetic code, would be the first oral antiviral medication for Covid-19. The drug works by altering critical enzymes that are necessary for the virus to begin replicating in the body’s host cells.

Study findings

The study enrolled patients with laboratory-confirmed mild-to-moderate Covid-19 who had symptoms for no more than five days. All patients had at least one risk factor associated with poor disease outcome, such as obesity or older age.

According to the study undertaken on 775 patients, 7.3 per cent of those given Molnupiravir twice a day for five days were hospitalised, and none had died by 29 days after treatment. That compared with a hospitalisation rate of 14.1 per cent for placebo patients. There were also eight deaths in the placebo group.


A sequencing done so far shows Molnupiravir is effective against all variants of the coronavirus, including the highly transmissible Delta, which has driven the recent worldwide surge in hospitalisations and deaths.

Hope or hype?

Existing treatments for hospitalised patients are cumbersome and logistically challenging to administer. A simple oral pill would be beneficial in better disease management. It will help in preventing serious illness from the virus.

Even though the hospitalisation-avoidance rates are reassuring, there is still much that is unknown about Molnupiravir. Complete phase-3 trial data is pending, a publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal is awaited to inspire more confidence.

Until then, it is important that patients use this information to get empowered and not indulge in self-medication once the drug gets approved and becomes available in the market. Caution remains the key.

(The writer is Director-Critical Care, Fortis Hospitals Mumbai)


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Published on: Thursday, October 21, 2021, 07:00 AM IST