Merck Says Molnupiravir Is Effective Against Omicron

According to Merck, their anti-covid pill molnupiravir is showing good effect against the Omicron variant. The company sources said that several studies have indicated the efficiency of oral treatment offered by Merck to fight the new variant.

Merck Says Molnupiravir Is Effective Against Omicron

The pills are prescribed for early-stage infection, and they are to be taken within five days after the initial symptoms become visible. Studies have indicated that it can prevent hospitalizations and severe outcomes by nearly 30% in a majority of cases.

Merck Says Molnupiravir Is Effective Against Omicron

The drugmaker said that research was conducted in six countries, including the US, to analyze the effectiveness of this anti-covid pill against the Omicron variant. Experts say that the pill has shown antiviral activity consistently against the new variant.

Due to this action, the pill can be used effectively in the early stages of infection on those suffering from mild symptoms. The use of pills at this stage prevents complications to a large extent. It is also quite effective on high-risk individuals when the medication is used as soon as symptoms emerge.

However, company executives said that the clinical trials are yet to be completed for this drug. The treatment is approved for use in the US. Not only that, several other countries have given emergency use authorization for this drug, and doctors can prescribe this to non-hospitalized patients in the early stages of infection. The company has delivered nearly 3 million courses to Washington and received over $2.2 billion for the drug. 

Yet another anti-covid pill in the market is Paxlovid, which is authorized for patients above the age of 12 in the US. This is manufactured by Pfizer and readily available in the market for Covid patients. The company has said that their drug is likely to work effectively even against the Omicron variant.

In recent weeks, the FDA restricted the use of a few monoclonal antibodies manufactured by Regeneron and Eli Lilly. These treatments that worked effectively to treat Covid patients in the Delta wave are no longer effective against the Omicron variant.

Due to this reason, the FDA recently issued guidelines to stop using these monoclonal antibodies on Covid patients infected with the Omicron variant. As more than 99% of the new cases in the US are due to Omicron, such monoclonal antibody treatments are no longer valid for Covid patients.

The Omicron variant has several mutations, which is why it is drastically different from the Delta variant. There are many modifications in the spike protein of the virus in the Omicron variant. Interestingly, most drugs targeting the virus focus on the spike protein. Due to this method, the drugs are no longer effective against Omicron even when they worked effectively in the Delta wave.

This is also the main reason for Omicron to invade vaccine immunity in a majority of people. Omicron has easily infected even those individuals who have taken both doses of vaccines in the past.

The variant is many times more transmissible than the Delta variant, even though it causes milder symptoms when compared to previous variants. The new variant predominantly stays in the nose and throat of the infected person and does not affect the lungs in a big way, unlike previous variants.

On the other hand, antiviral pills attack the entire virus structure, which has remained almost the same even after many mutations. Due to this method of approach, experts feel that antiviral pills should work effectively even after many mutations.

Considering this, experts hope that current antiviral pills should work against future variants as well. It would be interesting to see how this pans out in the future.

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