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UK approves first COVID antiviral pill for use

UK approves first COVID antiviral pill for use

The United Kingdom (UK) has become the first country globally to approve a COVID-19 antiviral pill jointly developed by US-based Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

The potentially game-changing drug, molnupriavir, was recommended by Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use in people who suffer from mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 and have at least one risk factor for developing severe illness which includes obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The drug will be administered to patients who test positive for the coronavirus and within five days of the onset of symptoms.

The MHRA said this determination is made by clinical data gathered throughout the trial phases of the drug.

The approval for the pill is the first for an oral antiviral COVID-19 treatment worldwide and it will be the very first time the drug will be administered on a wide-scale community level.

FDA to review drug’s safety this month


Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisers from the United States are expected to meet on November 30 of this month to review the drug’s safety and efficacy and vote on whether the drug should be authorised for use in the US.

The pill, which is expected to be branded as Lageviro in the UK, has been designed to reprogram the genetic coding of the COVID-19 and introduce errors. The pill will be taken twice a day for at least five days.

The pill will be a welcomed addition for many people across the world as treatments to tackle the impacts of the virus are mainly focused on vaccines.

Also, the data by Merck’s on the pill has shown it could slash the possibility of dying or being severely hospitalised by COVID-19 by 50 percent.

Wider roll-out


A wider rollout will follow if it is clinically and cost-effective in reducing hospitalisations and death.

If the pill proves to be successful in the UK, it could mean good news for the Virgin Islands and other Caribbean states as they try to deal with the impacts of the pandemic. While the Virgin Islands has had higher uptake of the vaccines among citizens in comparison to other countries in the Caribbean, there is still some level of vaccine hesitancy in the territory.

However, this antiviral treatment provides an alternative for the vaccine. The statistics show that a little more than 52 percent of the population is fully vaccinated while six per cent has received its first dose of a two-dose vaccine.

While many people may have questions surrounding the validity of the antiviral drug because other drugs in the same class as molnupiravir has been linked to birth defects in animals, Merck & Co Inc said its testing data on animals indicate it is completely safe for use. However, the data is not yet made available to the public.

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