Indeed, a significant percentage of the population is still resistant to the COVID-19 vaccine. Several pharmaceutical companies are developing what could become the world’s attempt to curb COVID-19 – a short-term, daily oral pill that could help accelerate recovery and slow down the spread of COVID-19.
Few people think that the treatment for COVID-19 could be as simple as taking a daily pill. Many oral antiviral treatments for COVID-19 are in the works, some of which may be available soon.
Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics officials plan to seek emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA for their medication known as molnupiravir after they described it as a successful phase 3 clinical trial.
According to the company officials, molnupiravir helped to reduce the risk of death or hospitalization from COVID-19. It was possible by 50% for trial participants with moderate to mild symptoms who took the medication compared with participants given a placebo.
Robert M. Davis, CEO and President of Merck said, “With these compelling results, we are optimistic that molnupiravir can become an important medicine as part of the global effort to fight the pandemic”.
Molnupiravir is an antiviral (nucleoside analog) designed to be a broad spectrum against many viruses by inhibiting viral replication. When we talk about test tubes, molnupiravir inhibits replication of SARS-CoV-2. It is the agent that causes COVID-19, so it was tested first in a phase II trial.
Antivirals are essential for various treatments
Antiviral treatments represent an essential front in curtailing and ending the COVID-19 pandemic and its transition to an endemic disease that’s among the population but manageable.
Antiviral drugs are already used to treat flu, hepatitis C, and HIV, while others work by inhibiting viral replications, lowering viral loads, and make people less sick as well potentially less likely to transmit the virus to others.
An antiviral drug named remdesivir is already in use to treat COVID-19, but it is intended only for hospitalized patients with advanced disease cases. On the other hand, the new antivirals could be dispensed at a pharmacy without physician intervention.
The drugs have the potential to play a significant role in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. A COVID-19 pill would aim to inhibit replication of the virus to the point that the body’s natural defenses can effectively combat it and reduce the severity of the infection and prevent progression to severe disease, hospitalization, or worse.
One approved antiviral drug to treat COVID-19 is Gilead’s remdesivir. It is the only antiviral drug that got approved for the treatment of COVID-19. However, it needs to administer intravenously to hospitalized patients and not intended for early, widespread use.
Not a miracle cure
Not everyone thinks these antiviral treatments would be game-changers. Attempt to create antivirals to treat influenza or flu proved to be extremely difficult, as viruses are efficient little engines of destruction.
Clinically approved antiviral drugs are available for only 10 of the more than 220 viruses known to infect humans. They also can have considerable side effects that can limit their overall usefulness.
There is not a strong history of finding good antivirals that change the course of upper respiratory tract infections in healthy people. Usually, the best efficacy can be seen if the drug can be started early in the infection before the virus has had a lot of opportunities to replicate.
Other promising drug options
Currently, the top three promising contenders are Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, Merck, and molnupiravir. These drugs showed evidence in an early study in mice that it could prevent early Covid-19 infections. CEO of Merck, Robert Davis added that the organizations are expecting to see Phase 3 trial data in the next few weeks, with a tentative plan to seek FDA emergency use authorization ‘before year-end.’
If the antiviral pills prove effective, the next challenge would be to ramp up a distribution system that can rush them to people as soon as they test positive. Merck officials have also predicted that the company could produce more than 10 million courses of therapy by the end of the year.
Antivirals can surely help to prevent and eliminate the chances of getting exposed to infection. It would be great if drugs help to decrease the transmission of COVID-19 and the risks of hospitalization. It could also have an impact to get people with mild to moderate illnesses back in the workforce pretty quickly.
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