A new pill could soon offer a cure for COVID-19 and suddenly significantly slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Experts are now looking into the new pill therapy, which is being developed and studied at the same time to ensure its effectiveness in treating SARS-CoV-2 patients.
A Potential COVID-19 Cure
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s research fellow, Dr. Elizabeth Duke said the antiviral pill has the potential to help patients get back to their normal lives. “Think about it. You can give it to anyone in a household or everyone in a school. Then we talk about a return to maybe normal life,” Duke told CNN.
The pill called molnupiravir is being developed by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP and Merck & Co. However, several companies are reportedly trying to make similar pills, including Pfizer.
The new drug was found to significantly reduce the infectious virus in participants in a mid-stage study just five days after starting the treatment program, the Wall Street Journal reported in March.
Although the pill showed promise in previous studies, scientists are now having a hard time getting more people to participate in newer studies. Aside from the fact that the participants needed for the studies were supposed to be unvaccinated, most people just weren’t ready to take the studies, Duke said.
How the pill works
The pill is said to be something similar to Tamiflu, an antiviral drug used to treat and prevent influenza infections. It works by interfering with the virus’ ability to replicate in human cells. When viral reproduction is hindered, the viral load is reduced and the infection time shortened.
Currently, only remdesivir is approved for use against COVID-19 in patients struggling with the severe form of the disease. The drug is given intravenously to hospital patients, which means it’s not really intended to treat the early stages of infection or to prevent the virus from spreading outside of the hospital.
Since mulnopiravir is packaged as pills, it could be a form of treatment that would be readily available for COVID-19 patients, whether or not they are dealing with the more severe form of the disease. As such, it could help quickly lower infection rates in patients while slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
“Oral antivirals have the potential not only to shorten the duration of COVID-19 syndrome, but also to limit transmission to people in your household when you are sick,” said Timothy Sheahan, virologist of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. who was involved in pioneering the new treatment.
Experts said at least three promising antivirals for COVID-19 are in clinical trials. The results are expected to be published in late autumn or winter. Depending on the results, manufacturers could move on to mass-producing the pills, with Merck officials saying they could produce more than 10 million units by the end of the year.