Molnupiravir, the pill against COVID-19 that promises to stop the infection in 24 hours

The United States announced on Wednesday an agreement with the pharmaceutical company Merck to buy 1.7 million treatment lots of an experimental antiviral pill against the COVID-19, if approved by federal authorities.

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Molnupiravir, which Merck is developing in partnership with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, is one of several investigational oral antivirals being tested against COVID-19. It is a phase III oral antiviral, which is tested in India and the Philippines, and promises to cut COVID-19 infection in 24 hours.

The drug belongs to a type of antivirals called polymerase inhibitors, which act on an enzyme that viruses need to copy their genetic material by introducing mutations that disable them to replicate.

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It has also shown efficacy in laboratory studies against other viruses such as influenza, Ebola, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis, but it has not been licensed or approved for any of these diseases.

In tests for influenza it has been shown to prevent the virus from making copies of itself. According to the researchers, el molnupiravir would prevent the replication machinery of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, works and make more copies.

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Agreement with the US

The $ 1.2 billion deal is for the drug molnupiravir, currently in phase 3 of a global clinical trial among 1,850 people, with results expected in the autumn.

“This agreement is part of the Biden government-wide approach to developing new COVID-19 treatments and responding to public health needs,” the Department of Health and Human Services said.

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The United States will only complete the deal if molnupiravir receives an emergency use authorization or full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Rob Davis, president of Merck, noted that the company “is pleased to collaborate with the United States government on this new agreement that will provide Americans with COVID-19 access to molnupiravir”.

The laboratory expects to have more than 10 million batches available for five treatment days by the end of 2021.

With information from AFP

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