New Pill to Combat COVID
November 17, 2021
Drug and pharmaceutical companies, like Moderna and Pfizer, have made revolutionary progress in helping individuals become resistant to COVID-19. Although vaccines have proven to be effective in reducing the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19, they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ending the problem altogether.
Merck, a pharmaceutical company, is currently developing an antiviral pill, Molnupiravir. Based on recent studies, the pill has cut the risk of hospitalizations and death-rates nearly in half (New York Times). Merck has requested FDA emergency approval for the pill and has granted a royalty-free license to the United Nations, which ensures that, after permission is granted, the pill may be used without additional payments necessary. The royalty-free license allows the manufacturing of the drug in poorer nations with a large number of COVID-19 cases, therefore allowing individuals to have access to updated medications at a cheaper and more affordable price.
Robert Davis, CEO of Merck, said in an interview with CNBC, “‘I can tell you through the data we’ve seen and the studies we’ve done, we think this is a safe drug.’” The UK is credited with being the first in the world to approve the pill, and about half a million doses of Monupiravir are set for delivery in November of this year. In terms of dispersion, first priority is given to elderly and high risk patients, such as individuals who are immunocompromised (The Guardian). The MHRA (Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), a government agency in the United Kingdom, confirmed that the drug is safe as well as effective; for people at a higher risk, the MHRA stated that the pill has been effective in reducing the risk of hospitalization and death.
In terms of importance and practicality, scientists are confident that the pill can serve as a great alternative for treating COVID-19. Dr. June Raine (MHRA chief executive) said, “‘Lageviro [Molnupiravir] is another therapeutic to add to our armoury against Covid-19. It is also the world’s first approved antiviral for this disease that can be taken by mouth rather than administered intravenously. This is important because it means it can be administered outside of a hospital setting, before Covid-19 has progressed to a severe stage” (CNBC).
Around Pembroke Pines Charter High School, students expressed their views regarding the new pill. Sophomore Hibba Waqar expresses, “[i]t depends on the statistics. But if people in the UK are getting it and it’s helping them, then I don’t see why [it shouldn’t be considered]. But, you also have to look at the potential side effects.” Sophomore Daniella Millian had similar beliefs, “I think if I’m able to find the good and bad I’d be able to really see if it will effectively be more helpful in addition to the vaccine,” in reference to the utility of the antiviral pill.
Regardless of the effectiveness of this new pill, scientists are still encouraging individuals to get vaccinated. Vaccines, social distancing, and masks are just a few of the recommendations from scientists and healthcare professionals when it comes to COVID-19 safety. With the new antiviral pill on the way, there could be a new addition to this list of recommendations, and a possible decrease in COVID-19 cases, leading a person to wonder; is this the light at the end of the tunnel?