Recently Merck & Co announced its first Covid-19 oral pills which is reportedly reduces chances of dying or being hospitalized due to severe COVID-19 infection.
The Merk’s ‘molnupiravir‘ reportedly differs from the Gilead’s antiviral ‘remdesivir‘, which has received FDA emergency use authorization, is given via infusion to hospitalized patients only.
A Pandemic Game Changer
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) writes in a press release that the Merk’s Covid-19 pill “a pandemic game changer“. Clinical trials led by Drs. William Fischer and Tim Sheahan at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill showed that a new pill treatment eliminates the COVID-19 virus in patients — reads the University’s news release.
Quoting The New Work Times, the Science reporter Robert F. Service, Kai Kupferschmidt write “the U.S. government has placed an advance order for 1.7 million doses of molnupiravir at $700 for a 5-day course”.
“A safe, affordable, and effective oral antiviral would be a huge advance in the fight against COVID.”– Peter Horby, a professor of emerging infectious diseases at the University of Oxford (source: Reuters)
Robert Davis, Merck Chief Executive, told Reuters “This is going to change the dialogue around how to manage COVID-19,”
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It’s Not Alternative to Vaccines
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, told CNN “This can be used in conjunction with the vaccine. And it’s not an alternative to vaccination. We still have to try to get more people vaccinated.”
“If approved, I think the right way to think about this is this is a potential additional tool in our toolbox to protect people from the worst outcomes of Covid.”– Jeff Zients, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator (source: CNN Health)
Nahid Bhadelia, director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy & Research at Boston University, told Science “oral antivirals could have ‘an immense impact‘, but for that to happen, rapid tests must be available so treatment can be started early in the disease course. These antivirals are not a replacement for vaccines because it is always better not to get infected in the first place.”
Coronavirus-19 vaccination watch
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID vaccination tracker page (as of October 3, 9 a.m.) 478,410,525 doses have been distributed and 395,934,825 doses administered. According MDH COVID-19 Response vaccine data (as of September 29) a total of 6,458,044 doses of Covid-19 (Pfizer & Moderna) vaccines have been administered in Minnesota. According to the MDH latest tally (as of October 1) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 714,790 (out of 12,562,842 tested) with 8,170 deaths.