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Molnupiravir: the drug that could eliminate covid in three days

This drug is said to be capable of eliminating covid-19 from a patient completely within just three days but is not recommended for children or pregnant women.

Molnupiravir: the drug that could eliminate covid in three days

Molnupiravir is an orally administered antiviral drug that fights covid-19. According to a study by the pharmaceutical company MSD, a trade name of Merck, the drug's manufacturer, molnupiravir eliminates actively infectious covid-19 on the third day of initiating therapy.

What is molnupiravir, the 3-day covid drug?

The drug, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), should only be administered to "patients with non-severe covid-19 who are at maximum risk of hospitalisation", and in no case "to children or pregnant women". The WHO explains that the drug is usually used in "people who have not been vaccinated against covid-19, the elderly, immunocompromised people and people with chronic diseases".

The WHO announced the inclusion of this antiviral in its list of recommended treatments for covid-19 on 3 March 2022, and it has also been approved for emergency use in countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan.

The study, which will be presented at ECCMID next week but was advanced in a statement on 2 April, indicates that participants underwent PCR testing to determine SARS-CoV-2 RNA viral loads from nasopharyngeal swabs collected on days 1 (baseline), 3, 5 (end-of-treatment visit), 10, 15 and 29. On day 3 of treatment, none of the 92 participants who received molnupiravir had detected infectious SARS-CoV-2, compared to 21.8% (20 out of 96) of participants taking a placebo.

How does molnupiravir work?

The drug targets the enzyme that the virus uses to reproduce and then introduces errors into its genetic code. This prevents multiplication and keeps viral load low. According to the BBC, molnupiravir was developed by US drug companies Merck, Sharp and Dohme and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Britain's own health minister, Sajid Javid, called the treatment "revolutionary".

According to the WHO, molnupiravir is a pill taken in four doses (800mg in total) twice a day for five days from the onset of symptoms. The MSD study shows that after five days those treated with the drug remained virus-free, while the other group (placebo) still detected 2.2% of the virus. At the end, on the tenth day, none of the participants in both groups were positive for the virus, according to the study results. However, the study indicates that "many patients" who received the placebo took up to five days to clear the virus, and some took even longer.

As always, consult your medical practitioner before taking any new medicines.