The pharmaceutical company Merck has produced an oral drug that it says could reduce Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths by 50 percent worldwide.
Company representatives say the drug, called molnupiravir, has shown encouraging results in a clinical trial. Merck has submitted a request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorise the emergency use of the drug. The United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has already granted it conditional approval.
Unlike other approved drugs, which are administered by injection, molnupiravir is the first medicine for treating Covid-19 that can be taken orally.
The drug works by reducing the ability of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid 19, to multiply in the body. It does this by increasing the number of mutations in the virus’s genetic material in a way that impairs its ability to multiply.
The new medicine makes early intervention possible for patients with mild to moderate cases of Covid-19. This could keep hospitals from becoming overcrowded, especially in countries where vaccination rates are still low.