Merck says early data show its COVID-19 pill works against variants


  • Merck said Wednesday that its experimental Covid-19 treatment has shown to likely be effective against existing coronavirus variants.
  • The pharmaceutical company said the Covid-19 pill molnupiravir has shown to be most effective when given early in the course of patients’ infection.
  • According to a Merck executive, the latest study is expected to be finished by November.

Merck announced Wednesday that its experimental oral COVID-19 drug, molnupiravir, is likely to be effective against known coronavirus variants, including the highly contagious Delta variant.

Jay Grobler, the pharmaceutical company’s head of infectious disease and vaccines, said that molnupiravir does not target the spike protein of the coronavirus, making it work as the virus continues to evolve. All existing Covid-19 vaccines target the spike protein.

Molnupiravir instead targets the viral polymerase, an enzyme needed for the virus to make copies of itself, Reuters reported. It is developed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the coronavirus. 

“It’s a really nice observation because it gives us confidence that it will work the same across the variants that are already out there, and potentially against any new variants that may emerge,” Bloomberg reported

Research shows that the Covid-19 pill is most effective when given early in the course of infection, according to the company.

Merck tested its oral drug against nasal swab samples taken from study participants in early trials of the drug. At the time, Delta was not the dominant variant. Later, molnupiravir was also tested against lab samples of the Delta variant and the results were promising.

Early this year, Merck said that a small, mid-stage trial found that after five days of molnupiravir treatment, none of the patients taking various doses of the drug tested positive for infectious virus, while 24% of placebo patients did have detectable levels. 

Currently, Merck is conducting two Phase III trials of the drug it is developing with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics – one to be used as COVID-19 treatment and another as a preventive. 

Grobler said that the Phase III treatment study is expected to finish in early November.

The trial enrolled nonhospitalized COVID-19 patients who have had symptoms for no more than five days and are at risk for severe disease. 

The latest analysis was presented during IDWeek, the annual meeting of infectious disease organizations, including the Infectious Diseases Society of America. 

Source: AOL/Reuters

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2 thoughts on “Merck says early data show its COVID-19 pill works against variants

  1. Suuuuure it does.
    As long as it’s capable of the Same level of MURDER or better, then it’s All Good…. Right ?

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