Antiviral Pill Shaking Things Up


Alexa Ward, Editor-in-Chief

On Oct. 1, Merck announced that their oral antiviral pill cut the risk of COVID-19 hospitalizations and death in half in trials.

The drug, named molnupiravir, works by stopping replication of the virus that causes COVID-19.

“We are very encouraged by the results from the interim analysis and hope molnupiravir, if authorized for use, can make a profound impact in controlling the pandemic,” CEO of Ridgeback Wendy Holman said.

Merck held trials for molnupiravir on 775 people from around the world with lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Clinical trials of medications for other diseases, such as the antidepressant fluvoxamine, indicate that Merck isn’t the only pill that helps fight against COVID-19.

Merck’s announcement of the pill sparked concern that COVID-19 vaccine demand will fall in the coming months. Moderna’s stocks saw an 11% decrease following the announcement, whereas Merck’s shares rose 8.4%.

Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that while the announcement of the pill is great news, Americans should not take it as a reason to postpone vaccination.

Scientists were initially unsure if an antiviral pill would be able to help with COVID-19 at all, which makes many believe that this pill will be a game changer.

However, some are not so sure. Infectious disease specialist Kent Sepkowitz believes that the pill might not become as huge as predicted because “as much as some people don’t like vaccines, many really don’t like pills that much either.”

“Before we declare this yet another game-changer or the Holy Grail, it is important to pause and consider the direction things may be going,” Sepkowitz said.

Merck plans to apply to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization soon.


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