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FACT FINDERS: How Merck’s COVID Pill Works

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 6:36 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The first pill to treat COVID-19 could be available soon. Merck just asked the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.

This could be a game-changer in the fight against COVID as right now, the only FDA-backed treatments require a shot or IV.

This antiviral pill is called molnupiravir, which doctors could prescribe to COVID-19 patients.

Experts believe it could mean fewer people crowding our hospitals. During the trial period, the company found the pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half among those with early symptoms.

“What this drug is doing is actually making the virus mutate so quickly that it kills itself,” said Koenraad Van Doorslaer, an Assistant Professor in Virology at the University of Arizona. “It’s pushing it to make so much mistakes that essentially the virus as it comes in and tries to make more copies of itself, it makes so many errors that now the source code is no longer interpretable and you no longer make virus.”

He says vaccination is still key as it is better to not get COVID in the first place.

If the FDA does give the pill the OK, it is not for everyone, at least not yet. Merck asked for an EUA for adults with mild to moderate COVID-19. There could be a decision in a matter of weeks.

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