COVID-19 Pill gets Approval in the UK

The United Kingdom is officially the first country to have approved an antiviral drug aimed at combatting serious illness caused by COVID-19. The approval for Molnupiravir comes at a delicate time where the UK is struggling to contain the number of daily new cases. The drug has been jointly developed by the U.S. based Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

The drug has been recommended for people with mild to moderate COVID-19 infection, holding one risk factor which could contribute to severe illness such as old age, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The plan is to have the pill administered as soon as possible once someone is infected with COVID-19 and within five days of the onset of symptoms.

Pills for viral disease spilled from a bottle

Within Britain, the antiviral drug will be labelled as Lagevrio. It works by introducing errors within the genetic code of the virus. It is to be taken twice a day for five days. The current treatment available in most countries is through vaccines, so the emergence of antiviral drugs is a welcome development to combat a disease that killed over five million people across the world.

The data for Molnupiravir is quite interesting. It shows that it could reduce the chances of dying or hospitalisation through the development of severe symptoms by half. For the purpose of higher effectiveness, it needs to be taken at the early stages of illness.

With the drug being rolled out, the UK will be able to collect data on how well it will perform within a community that is mostly vaccinated.

The quick approval for this drug comes at a time where the UK is feeling the brunt of increased infections, averaging forty thousand daily. This only comes second to the United States, which has approximately five times the population. The spike in case numbers has brought about extensive criticism towards the government, since most restrictions were lifted.

It is also a delicate time as the UK government is being pressured to implement its “Plan B” as infections soar and winter approaches. These involve mandatory mask wearing, vaccine passes and working-from-home measures. Most countries across the world maintained some degree of restrictions or had them re-implemented to cater for rising cases.

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