Britain’s health regulators approved the world’s first pill to treat cases of symptomatic COVID-19. It is dubbed a “gamechanger”. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said the antiviral Lagevrio (molnupiravir) was found to be safe to use. It is also said to be effective at reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death in people with mild to moderate COVID-19. Molnupiravir is originally created to treat flu.
“Today is a historic day for our country, as the UK is now the first country in the world to approve an antiviral that can be taken at home for COVID-19. This will be a gamechanger for the most vulnerable and the immunosuppressed, who will soon be able to receive the ground-breaking treatment,” said UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
He further added that they are thoroughly working with the NHS to set out plans to deploy molnupiravir to patients through a national study as soon as possible. “This antiviral will be an excellent addition to our armoury against COVID-19, and it remains vital everyone comes forward for their life-saving COVID-19 vaccine – particularly those eligible for a booster – to ensure as many people as possible are protected over the coming months,” he said.
Talking about who can use Molnupiravir, it has been authorised for use in people who have mild to moderate COVID-19. And to those who have at least one risk factor for developing severe illness such as obesity, old age over 60, diabetes mellitus, or heart disease. The tablet is developed by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD).
It works by interfering with the virus’ replication and prevents it from multiplying. Also, it helps to keep low virus levels in the body which will in turn reduce the severity of the disease. However, it should be taken during the early stages of infection or within five days of symptoms onset. Lagevrio is the world’s first approved antiviral for this disease that can be taken by mouth rather than administered intravenously.
NOTE: The new pill is not intended to be used as a substitute for vaccination against COVID-19.