Covid-19: the Merck laboratory announces that its antiviral reduces the risk of hospitalization by 50%

RESEARCH – The American laboratory Merck ensures that its antiviral, currently in phase 3 of clinical trials, reduces the risk of hospitalization by 50% and significantly reduces the risk of death.

While vaccines against Covid-19 will soon celebrate the first anniversary of their marketing, treatments against Sars-Cov-2 are still struggling to see the light of day. This Friday, the American laboratory Merck, however, announced promising results for its antiviral, molnupiravir, to be taken orally, in pill form. According to the company, which is developing this treatment with biotechnology company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, it significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization and death after contracting the virus.

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Coronavirus: the pandemic shaking up the planet

To reach this conclusion, the laboratory observed the number of people hospitalized who received this antiviral during phase 3 clinical trials, and that of the control group, which received a placebo. All the participants (775) were people at risk, suffering from Covid-19 in a way “light” Where “moderate”. According to MSD, one month after the start of the trial, “7.3% of patients who received molnupiravir were hospitalized, compared to 14.1% of patients treated with placebo”.

Marketing authorization soon?

Regarding the deaths, the American laboratory notes that on day 29, “no deaths were reported” among the group treated with the antiviral, compared with eight deaths in the control group. However, these results were published in an official press release and not in a scientific journal. But the lab finds them “positive”. Thus, the study is “prematurely” interrupted.

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The two companies now plan to file a marketing authorization application with the US health safety agency, the FDA. “With these results, we are convinced that molnupiravir can become an important drug in the global effort to fight the pandemic”, says Robert M. Davies, Chairman of Merck. If authorized, then molnupiravir will become the first such antiviral pill used against Covid-19.

Other laboratories are working on antivirals in tablet form, such as the biotech Atea Pharmaceuticals and the Roche laboratory, which are studying the effectiveness of a comparable treatment, called AT-527. The Pfizer laboratory announced Monday that it has started a large-scale clinical trial for its own anti-Covid pill, to test its ability to preventively reduce the risk of infection in those around a person who has contracted the disease. It will be administered in combination with a “low dose” the medicine ritonavir, used against the AIDS virus.

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