Molnupiravir reduced hospitalization and death in study
A common reason given among the vaccine-hesitant for not getting the jab is a fear of needles. The fear can be so encompassing that it prevents people from getting a potentially life-saving vaccination and instead opt to take their chances with whatever COVID might bring. It is not rooted in rationality but in a deeper recess of the brain. While it is no substitute for vaccination, molnupiravir might drastically reduce the severity of illness and need for hospitalization in infected people.
Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics developed the drug, which comes in pill form, and have applied for an emergency use authorization from the FDA. In clinical trials, the antiviral lowered risk of hospitalization or death by 50% among unvaccinated high-risk adults when administered within five days off the onset of COVID symptoms. Of 775 patients with at least one underlying condition, 7.3% who took molnupiravir were hospitalized, compared to 14.1% of patients taking a placebo who went to the hospital or died.
“Through Day 29, no deaths were reported in patients who received molnupiravir, as compared to eight deaths in patients who received placebo,” Merck said in a statement.
The treatment was working so well, Merck said, it stopped the trial and applied for emergency use authorization.
“The extraordinary impact of this pandemic demands that we move with unprecedented urgency, and that is what our teams have done by submitting this application for molnupiravir to the FDA within 10 days of receiving the data,” Merck CEO and President Robert Davis said.
The data has yet to be published or peer-reviewed, so the FDA will want to scrutinize the results before granting approval. Merck says it can produce 10 million courses of molnupiravir treatment by the end of 2021. It also said it will price the drug in tiers and work with generic manufacturers so less-wealthy countries will be able to afford treatment for their citizens.
Preventing infection in the first place is certainly more effective, but if molnupiravir can greatly reduce hospitalization and death, it will be another welcome tool in the fight against COVID.