COVID-19 Cure? This Pill Could Treat Symptoms, Help Patients Return To ‘Normal Life’
A new pill could soon provide a cure for COVID-19 and significantly slow the spread of the novel coronavirus all at once. Experts are now looking at the new pill treatment that is being developed and studied at the same time to ensure its efficiency in treating SARS-CoV-2 patients.
A Potential COVID-19 Cure
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center research associate Dr. Elizabeth Duke said that the antiviral pill has the potential to help patients return to their normal lives. “Think about that. You could give it to everyone in a household, or everyone in a school. Then we’re talking about a return to, maybe, normal life,” Duke told CNN.
The pill called molnupiravir is being developed by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP and Merck & Co. However, multiple companies are reportedly trying to manufacture similar pills, including Pfizer.
The new medication was found to have significantly reduced infectious virus in participants in a mid-stage study just five days into the treatment program, The Wall Street Journal reported in March.
Although the pill showed promise in the earlier trials, scientists are now finding it hard to recruit more people to participate in newer studies. Aside from the fact that participants needed for the trials should be unvaccinated, most people were just unwilling to join the trials, said Duke.
How The Pill Works
The pill is dubbed as something akin to Tamiflu, an antiviral medication used in treating and preventing influenza infections. It works by interfering with the virus’ ability to replicate in human cells. When viral reproduction is hampered, viral load is reduced and infection time is shortened.
As of late, only remdesivir has been approved for use against COVID-19 in patients struggling with the severe form of the disease. The drug is administered intravenously to hospitalized patients, which means it is not really intended for use to treat the early stages of infection and prevent the spread of the virus in non-hospital settings.
Since mulnopiravir will be packaged as pills, it could be a form of treatment that would be readily available to COVID-19 patients, regardless if they are dealing with the more severe form of the disease of not. As such, it could help rapidly reduce the levels of infection in patients while also slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
“Oral antivirals have the potential to not only curtail the duration of one’s COVID-19 syndrome, but also have the potential to limit transmission to people in your household if you are sick,” said University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill virologist Timothy Sheahan, who was involved in the pioneer trails of the new treatment.
Experts said at least three promising antivirals for COVID-19 are undergoing clinical trials. The results are expected to be published by late fall or winter. Depending on the results, the manufacturers could proceed to mass-producing the pills, with Merck officials saying that they could produce more than 10 million units by the end of the year.