‘Holy grail’: Researchers see promise in COVID-19 pill treatment

Coronavirus

A COVID-19 treatment in pill form is being developed and results have shown early promise for the drug to be like Tamiflu for the pandemic.

Pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. and biotechnology partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced preliminary results from Ridgeback’s Phase 2a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and efficacy to eliminate SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA of a drug called molnupiravir.

Molnupiravir was originally developed for the treatment of influenza.

The drug would function as an at-home, five-day treatment, similar to Tamiflu, to stop the virus from reproducing before causing major damage.

Researchers say the objective was to reduce time to produce a negative test after infection.

Results announced Monday showed a reduction in days to negativity of infectious virus isolation in nasal swabs from participants with symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The study enrolled 202 non-hospitalized adults who had signs or symptoms of COVID-19 within seven days and confirmed active SARS-CoV-2 infection.

If the drug proves capable of treating those with COVID-19 symptoms, it could add to the currently-limited arsenal of treatments for the virus and be the first oral antiviral drug against it.

In Dec. 2020, results of a study on the treatment with molnupiravir of ferrets infected with Covid-19 were published. The study found that the drug was “efficacious” when administered orally to infected ferrets and that it blocked the transmission of the virus between ferrets after 24 hours following administration of the drug.

Dr. Marc Siegel said on “Fox and Friends” on Sunday that the drug could be the “holy grail” of the COVID-19 pandemic and could come to market in as little as four to five months.

“It may be the holy grail on this because it was just studied in phase two trials and it literally stopped the virus in its tracks,” he explained. “And there wasn’t any virus found in the patients that were studied.”

Further study of the experimental drug continues.

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