As soon as COVID-19 infected people gain access to what is essentially Tamiflu for the new coronavirus, experts say the pandemic’s course might be drastically altered.
A New Generation Of Covid Antivirals Is On Its Way
The manufacturers of at least three antiviral medications are competing to become the first to target COVID-19.
In the event of a COVID infection, such a pill could be prescribed to you by your doctor and taken while you are recovering at home.
Molnupiravir, an antiviral drug developed by Merck & Co., leaped into the lead on Friday. The company is asking for a quick US license after a clinical trial found that it halved the number of deaths as well as the hospitalizations linked to COVID-19. Another candidate from Pfizer Inc. and one from Roche and Atea Pharmaceuticals are also on track to start clinical trials.
According to experts, if these drug candidates are safe and effective, they might keep infected patients out of hospitals and stop others from catching the COVID virus. As Dr. William Schaffner of the Bethesda, Maryland-based National Foundation for Infectious Diseases explains, all of these drugs inhibit viruses in one form or another. If the virus in your body starts to multiply after exposure, Schaffner said that we could get these drugs in there early so it won’t spread to other parts of your body, so that you won’t get sick or get a milder illness. In addition, you would be less contagious, he added.
One of these antivirals might also be available to COVID patients’ caregivers, Schaffner said. The risk of infection to family members exposed to these drugs might be very low, Schaffner suggested.
Treatments currently available are flawed
Currently, antiviral treatments are available for people who have just started to show signs of COVID, but they all have limitations. The senior scholar of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Dr. Amesh Adalja, said Remdesivir is only limitedly effective for stopping COVID distribution. The drugs like Remdesivir, according to Adalja, are not knockout punches because they were originally devised to target a different virus.
Merck’s announcement was notable in part due to the positive results of the Molnupiravir clinical trial, which led an independent data monitor to recommend ending the study earlier so the firm could apply for an emergency food and drug authorization.
Whenever possible, people should stay at home
Merck’s vice president for infectious diseases and vaccine discovery, Daria Hazuda, said oral antivirals were thought to make a large contribution to the pandemic. With the emergence of variants and the rapid evolution of the virus, keeping people out of hospitals is fundamental, he added. It comes just days after Pfizer announced it had begun testing PF-07321332, which is an antiviral treatment for COVID.
The company said that Pfizer’s drug candidate would be administered in combination with ritonavir for HIV prevention, to test whether it could stop the virus from spreading between healthy trial participants and those with confirmed diseases. A total of 2,660 people will be enrolled in the study, and they will be randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or the pill twice daily for five to ten days. As reports of AT-527’s positive early results surfaced in late June, Roche and Atea Pharmaceuticals announced a similar development.
Early phase 2 trials showed 80% reductions in viral load in two days compared to placebo based on phase 2 results. An early analysis, however, only included high-risk hospitalized patients. About 47% of patients became COVID-free within two weeks after taking the Roche-Atea pill. The percentage of people clearing COVID to the same degree was 22% for those taking the placebo.
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