Two antiviral medications to treat COVID-19 are awaiting authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Merck’s antiviral Molnupiravir, reduced rates of COVID-19 hospitalization and death by roughly 50 percent. It was given within five days of when symptoms began. The pill is given as a five-day course during which patients take a total of 40 pills. Pfizer’s antiviral pill Paxlovid reduced COVID-19 hospitalization and death by 89 percent. As with the Merck drug, Paxlovid is given as a five-day course. It must be given with a second antiviral medicine, a booster, called ritonavir.
In order to be effective, both of them are designed to be given to people very shortly after they are exposed or develop the infection.
Both Merck and Pfizer’s antiviral treatments work by interfering with the capacity of the coronavirus to replicate, but they do this in slightly different ways. The Merck product mimics the building blocks of the virus and it leads to faulty replication of the virus. Basically, lethal mutations within the virus so that it’s not viable anymore. The Pfizer product blocks the viral enzyme, protease, that’s important for the replication of the virus.
These drugs are not a substitute for getting vaccinated. The best strategy to prevent infection against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.
These oral pills are a crucial part of the efforts in controlling the pandemic and could be the gamechanger we have been all waiting for to eradicate this global health crisis.