Britain has become the first country in the world to approve what could be a ‘game-changing’ COVID-19 antiviral pill.
Said pill, molnupiravir, was jointly developed by the American based companies Merck (MRK.N) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. The drug is being recommended for people with mild to moderate COVID-19 cases according to Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
Following a positive COVID-19 test, the drug will be administered as soon as possible within five days of onset symptoms. The tablet is being called “one of the most promising drug developments of the pandemic so far,” according to Sky News.
Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency further note that patients must exhibit “at least one risk factor” as per Reuters, for developing severe illness including obesity, older age, diabetes and heart disease in order to be eligible to take the drug.
As per Reuters, the tablet is also being studied in a late-stage trial for preventing infection.
According to the UK’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid, it will “be a gamechanger for the most vulnerable and the immunosuppressed.”
The drug is set to be branded as Lagevrio in the UK, and is supposed to “introduce errors into the genetic code of the coronavirus”. Additionally, it is supposed to inhibit COVID-19 from multiplying – thus ultimately reducing the disease’s severity.
Reportedly, Britain has agreed to secure 480 000 courses of the drug. This followed the UK government referring to a study that showed the drug reduced the rate of hospital admissions and deaths by 50% in patients with mild to moderate symptoms.
Additionally, Merck has said that it expected to produce 10 million courses of the treatment by the end of this year, with at least 20 million set to be manufactured in 2022.
Meanwhile, Pfizer is reportedly also in the race to develop an easy-to-administer antiviral pill for COVID-19.