A New Drug to Treat Covid-19
Countries in Asia are placing orders for a new drug to treat coronavirus.
Countries over the Asia-Pacific are placing orders to the latest antiviral pill to battle coronavirus, which has not been authorized for use yet.
Molnupiravir is produced by the US pharmaceutical company Merck, the pill is deemed as a potential pandemic game-changer, especially for those who are unable to get vaccinated.
At least eight countries or territories in the Asia-Pacific region have signed deals or are in talks to procure the drug. These countries include New Zealand, Australia and South Korea.
Merck is seeking US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization for the drug. If it is granted, the capsule will become the first oral antiviral treatment against COVID-19.
Experts have cautioned, that the race to stock up on the pill could lead to wealthier countries hoarding doses and lower-income countries missing out.
Molnupiravir is seen as a positive step because it offers a way to treat COVID-19, without the patients needing hospitalization.
Once a patient is diagnosed with COVID-19, they can start a course of Molnupiravir. That involves four 200-milligram capsules, twice a day, for five days, which is a total of 40 pills.
During the trial, more than 700 patients who were unvaccinated were given the pill or a placebo and it was found that within 29 days, none of those who took the pill died, compared with eight who were given the placebo.
Unlike vaccines, which prompt an immune response, Molnupiravir disrupts replication of the virus, said Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious diseases physician and associate professor of medicine at Australian National University Medical School. "In a sense, it makes the virus produce unhealthy babies," he said.
"Getting a tablet is so much simpler," Senanayake said. "This is a game changer."