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On Thursday, Britain became the first country in the world to approve the use of a new innovation, the COVID-19 antiviral pill.
Britain is the first-ever country to greenlight an anti-Covid pill, as it approved Merck’s antiviral drug, which is used to treat patients experiencing mild to moderate coronavirus symptoms, according to regulators.
The antiviral pill was jointly developed by U.S.-based company Merck & Co Inc. (MRK.N) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, in an effort to augment ways to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health minister Sajid Javid marked the day historic for the United Kingdom as it became the first country in the world to approve an antiviral that can be taken at home to prevent the worsening of COVID-19 infection.
The antiviral, molnupiravir, slows down the disease by decreasing the ability of a virus to replicate.
Citing internal data, Merck and Biotherapeutics said that molnupiravir reduces patients’ risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by half. It is said that patients take four pills twice a day for five days.
According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), its trials discovered that it was “safe and effective at reducing the risk of hospitalization and death in people with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at the risk of developing severe illness.”
In a report by Reuters, the said antiviral drug will be administered as soon as possible after receiving a positive COVID-19 test, and within five days of the onset of symptoms, the regulator cited.
Reports further said that U.S advisers are set to meet on November 30 to review the safety and efficacy of the drug, then they would vote on whether molnupiravir should be allowed.
Not a replacement for vaccination
The pill is the world’s first approved antiviral treatment for the novel disease that can be taken by mouth rather than administered intravenously. It is also the first COVID-19 drug that will be administered widely in the community, and it comes as a convenient ‘treatment’ for mild to moderate COVID symptoms, which can be administered outside of a hospital setting.
However, experts reminded that the treatment is not a ‘miracle cure.’ Chair of the Commission on Human Medicines Munir Pirmohamed said the antiviral drug was not meant to be used used as a substitute for vaccination against the virus.
In MHRA chief executive June Raine’s words, the pill is “another therapeutic to add to our armoury.”