A new experimental antiviral drug developed by Merck & Co. has received various feedbacks. The pill could minimize the chances of having severe symptoms or even death for those vulnerable to COVID-19. Experts hailed it as a potential breakthrough in fighting the virus.
Merck stated in a press release that the company would seek emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for a specific drug, known as molnupiravir, designed to introduce errors into the virus’ genetic code. If the pill gets authorization this year, it would be the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19. The results were very impressive that the study is being stopped early at the recommendation of outside monitors. Merck’s shares went up to more than 9% after the Phase III trial.
White House COVID Response Team’s Opinion on Merck’s Pill
On Friday, Members of the White House COVID-19 Response Team said in a briefing that the results of Merck’s experimental COVID-19 pill trial are certainly good news. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the early data from the studies on the Merck COVID-19 pill were “impressive,” including a 50% reduction in hospitalizations and deaths.
Dr. Fauci was enthusiastic about developing the new Merck antiviral pill, describing it as “extremely important.” He also pointed the stark difference in the number of people who died during the clinical trial of the said pill, with eight among the placebo group and none among those taking the drug. “That’s very impressive, so we look forward to the implementation of this and to its effect on people who are infected,” he said.
Vaccinations are Still Seen as the Best Choice
Dr. Fauci reminded that COVID-19 pill replacing vaccine is a “false narrative.” He warned that Americans should not wait to be vaccinated because they believe they can only take the pill. While the new medicine may lower the risk of death, he said the best way to be protected is to avoid infection. Fauci added that he could not predict when the pill might be approved as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention need time to evaluate the medication.
Jeff Zients, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, stated that despite the impressive result of the said pill, ” Vaccines remains by far our best tool against COVID-19. It can prevent you from getting COVID in the first place — and we want to prevent infections, not just wait to treat them once they happen.” The White House COVID-19 response team spent the majority of its briefing presenting statistics to encourage the unvaccinated 70 million U.S. residents to get vaccinated.
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