Britain approves world’s first oral pill to treat Covid-19

JNS: Britain’s health regulators have approved the experimental drug Molnupiravir from U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck on Thursday, the world’s first pill to treat cases of symptomatic COVID-19 in adults.

Molnupiravir (Lagevrio) has been proven to be safe and effective in reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death in persons who have mild to moderate COVID-19 and who are at elevated risk of developing severe disease, says the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Molnupiravir, originally created to treat flu, could go on to be prescribed twice a day to vulnerable patients recently diagnosed with COVID-19 after it proved effective in clinical trials.

Molnupiravir has been authorised for use in people who have mild to moderate COVID-19 and at least one risk factor for developing severe illness. Such risk factors include obesity, old age over 60, diabetes mellitus, or heart disease, it said.

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the UK has become the first country to approve an antiviral that can be taken at home for COVID-19. This will be a game-changer for the most vulnerable and the immunosuppressed, who will soon be able to receive the ground-breaking treatment, he said.

Meanwhile, experts have warned that the treatment is not a miracle cure. Munir Pirmohamed, chair of the Commission on Human Medicines, said it was not intended to be used as a substitute for vaccination against the virus.

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