Merck says new pill reduces Covid-19 deaths by half

Washington, Oct 1 (EFE).- Drugmaker Merck & Co said Friday that it plans to ask regulators in the United States and other countries to authorize emergency use of a pill shown in clinical trials to reduce hospitalization and deaths among Covid-19 patients by 50 percent.

Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics conducted trials among 775 unvaccinated adults suffering with mild-to-moderate coronavirus and deemed at higher risk because of underlying conditions such as obesity, diabetes or heart disease.

Only 7.3 percent of the subjects who received a five-day course of the drug, molnupiravir, died or were hospitalized within 30 days, compared with 14.1 percent of those who got a placebo.

None of the participants who took molnupiravir following the 30-day period, while eight test subjects who were given the placebo lost their lives, Merck said of what would be the first oral antiviral medicine for Covid-19.

“More tools and treatments are urgently needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, which has become a leading cause of death and continues to profoundly affect patients, families, and societies and strain health care systems all around the world,” Merck CEO Robert M. Davis said.

“With these compelling results, we are optimistic that molnupiravir can become an important medicine as part of the global effort to fight the pandemic,” he said.

Molnupiravir works by preventing the virus from replicating in the body.

Worldwide, Covid-19 has killed more than 4.8 million people, including 717,000 in the US. EFE jab/dr

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