UK becomes first country to allow Merck’s pill

The United Kingdom announced Thursday, November 4, that it was the first country to authorize molnupiravir, a pill treatment against Covid-19 developed by the American laboratory Merck.

«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 against Covid-19“, Said Minister of Health Sajid Javid in a statement,”It will be a game-changer for the most vulnerable and the immunocompromised, who will soon be able to receive the revolutionary treatment».

Molnupiravir has been cleared by the UK regulatory agency, MHRA, for use in people with mild to moderate Covid who have at least one risk factor for developing serious illness (obesity, over 60 years , diabetes, heart disease). Antivirals like molnupiravir work by decreasing the ability of a virus to replicate, thereby slowing down the disease.

Reduce pressure on hospitals

Their application can be twofold: both to allow people already affected not to suffer from serious symptoms, but also to those who have been in close contact not to develop it. Given to patients within days of a positive test, the treatment halves the risk of hospitalization, according to a clinical trial conducted by Merck, also called MSD outside the United States.

The British government, faced with Covid-19 contamination rates among the highest in the world, announced on October 20 that it had ordered 480,000 treatments of molnupiravir. He also signed a contract for 250,000 treatments of ritonavir, another antiviral from the American laboratory Pfizer already used against HIV, whose effectiveness against the coronavirus is the subject of clinical trials. France has ordered 50,000 doses of the pill from Merck. These treatments are intended for patients deemed to be the most at risk, in order to reduce the pressure on hospitals.

One of the countries in Europe most affected by the pandemic with more than 140,000 dead, the United Kingdom is seeing the pressure on its hospitals increase with a thousand hospitalizations per day and nearly 9,000 patients currently hospitalized with the Covid- 19. But if it remains far from the peaks of the last waves, raising fears of a difficult situation this winter.


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