Covid-19: an oral treatment soon to be marketed?

The American laboratory Merck announced on Friday October 1 that it wanted to market an oral treatment, intended to treat patients infected with the coronavirus.

“Molnupiravir may become an important drug in the global pandemic effort,” said Robert M. Davies, President of Merck.

And for good reason, if it is approved by the American drug agency (FDA), this antiviral pill would become the first drug of this type available on the market.

According to the American manufacturer, the drug, developed with the biotechnology company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, would halve the risks of hospitalization and death.

Following the clinical trial carried out on 775 people with mild to moderate cases of Covid-19 and at least one aggravating risk factor, the Merck laboratory observed that “7.3% of patients who received molnupiravir were hospitalized, against 14.1% of patients treated with placebo ”.

No death was also observed in the group of people treated with the antiviral, in the five days after the appearance of the first symptoms. In the second group, treated with the placebo, eight people died.

Molnupiravir is believed to decrease the ability of the virus to replicate and thus slow down the disease.

Encouraging results but not miraculous

However, the scientific community has some reservations.

“It is not a miracle drug, but a tool to accompany vaccination,” said on Twitter Peter Hotez, professor at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston (United States). Other experts also warn about when to take the treatment, which they believe needs to be given early enough to be truly effective.

The American manufacturer, however, has already started production of molnupiravir and made an agreement with certain governments, including the United States, which have planned to purchase 1.7 million doses, if the drug is properly approved.

In addition, other laboratories, such as Pfizer, are also trying to develop a pill which would be intended to reduce the risk of infection in those around a person who has contracted the disease.

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