An antiviral pill developed by US drugmaker Merck & Co could half the chances of dying or being hospitalized for those most at risk of contracting severe COVID-19, with experts hailing it as a potential breakthrough in how the virus is treated, reports Reuters.
If it gets authorization, Molnupiravir, which is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus, would be the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19. Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said they plan to seek U.S. emergency use authorization for the pill as soon as possible and to make regulatory applications worldwide.
"An oral antiviral that can impact hospitalization risk to such a degree would be game changing," said Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. "This is going to change the dialogue around how to manage COVID-19," Merck Chief Executive Robert Davis told Reuters.
Existing treatments are "cumbersome and logistically challenging to administer. A simple oral pill would be the opposite of that," Adalja added.
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