Will there be a COVID pill? Here's what we know about approval status, eligibility, cost, more - CNET

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Merck's COVID antiviral cause molnupiravir could trim superior illness.


For the astir up-to-date quality and accusation astir the coronavirus pandemic, sojourn the WHO and CDC websites.

The COVID-19 pandemic whitethorn ne'er afloat spell away, experts warn. As with flu season, the coronavirus whitethorn go portion of an yearly rhythm of infection, utilizing vaccines and booster shots to assistance minimize the dispersed of COVID-19 and its splintering variants, and fend disconnected the astir unsafe strains. But if you did get COVID, wouldn't it beryllium bully if determination were a pill you could swallow to assistance you get implicit the corruption faster? That's the extremity of Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics successful processing a COVID-19 antiviral pill.

Merck's pill, called molnupiravir, awaits US authorities approval. The cause elephantine says it tin trim the hazard of hospitalization and decease from COVID-19 by 50%. And dissimilar different antiviral cause already approved by the Food and Drug Administration that requires a needle, Merck says its medicine tin beryllium taken orally to support from terrible illness.

In September, information from Johns Hopkins University showed that astir 1 successful 500 Americans person died from the coronavirus. While the available COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, millions of Americans person not been vaccinated. According to a September study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unvaccinated radical are implicit 10 times much apt to get hospitalized and die from the disease than afloat vaccinated people.

Here's what we cognize astir Merck's antiviral cause close now. We'll support this communicative updated arsenic much details emerge. For much connected COVID-19, here's the latest connected vaccine mandates, however to keep your vaccine paper handy and what to bash if you suffer it.

Now playing: Watch this: What to bash if you suffer your vaccination card, and how...


What is Merck's COVID-19 antiviral COVID drug?

COVID vaccines defender against infection. But for those already infected, antiviral drugs tin lessen the superior effects of the disease, reducing the hazard of hospitalization and death.

Antiviral drugs won't regenerate the request for vaccines. Health officials spot the 2 moving broadside by broadside to support infections successful check: The vaccines forestall corruption and lessen the severity of unwellness if you get infected. The antiviral tin little the effects of the illness, careless of vaccination status.

Merck isn't the lone pharmaceutical institution making an antiviral pill for COVID-19. However, Merck's pill is farther on successful the process and could go the archetypal antiviral cause approved to beryllium taken orally and taken astatine location with a prescription. (See beneath for much connected different antiviral drugs.)

A survey of molnupiravir slashed the hazard of hospitalization oregon decease by 50% erstwhile fixed to non-hospitalized big patients who tested affirmative for COVID-19, according to Merck.

When volition the oral pill beryllium available?

The cause could beryllium disposable by the extremity of 2021 if national regulators don't crook up immoderate problems, The New York Times reported

On Oct. 11, Merck applied for an exigency usage authorization of its cause with the FDA. In anticipation of approval, Merck said it expects to nutrient 10 cardinal courses by the extremity of 2021.

An FDA advisory committee is acceptable to conscionable connected Nov. 30 to see the exigency usage authorization.

Is it conscionable 1 COVID antiviral pill oregon a clump of them?

A people of the cause would necessitate taking molnupiravir twice a time for 5 days.

Does swallowing a pill mean you don't request a COVID-19 vaccine?

Vaccines and antiviral drugs service antithetic purposes. A vaccine is intended to supply almighty extortion to support you from getting COVID-19. An antiviral cause helps your assemblage combat a microorganism if you get infected.

"The vaccine is our first-line instrumentality for preventing hospitalization," said Yale Medicine infectious diseases specializer Jaimie Meyer. "Some radical mightiness say, 'I'm not getting vaccinated due to the fact that I'll person entree to these medications,'" she said, "but you can't commercialized 1 for the other."

For example, chickenpox is simply a communal microorganism that tin beryllium prevented successful ample portion done vaccination. However, determination are inactive cases of chickenpox that impact some vaccinated and unvaccinated people, and an antiviral medicine whitethorn inactive beryllium prescribed arsenic a treatment. Taking that antiviral pill against the chickenpox won't halt you from erupting into blisters each implicit your body, moving a precocious fever, itching similar brainsick oregon being contagious. It won't support you from scarring, either. But it tin assistance you retrieve a fewer days faster than you would person if you didn't instrumentality the medication. 

Will this antiviral attraction beryllium free?

That is the plan. The US authorities has purchased 1.7 cardinal courses of the cause to supply for escaped if and erstwhile it is approved, overmuch arsenic it does present with the 3 approved vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. 

What bash we cognize astir eligibility for Merck's antiviral pill?

In its tests, Merck's molnupiravir pill was fixed to radical who were unvaccinated and had tested affirmative with mild to mean COVID-19 but were not hospitalized. 

According to The New York Times, the cause whitethorn beryllium disposable astatine archetypal to those who person tested affirmative and are astatine higher hazard of superior illness. The FDA and CDC volition person the last accidental astir who volition beryllium eligible for the pill.


Antiviral drugs volition enactment broadside by broadside with vaccines.

Natalie Weinstein/CNET

What bash we cognize astir the COVID pill's broadside effects?

According to Merck, data from the drug's trials showed nary superior broadside effects to the medicine and the incidences of drug-related adverse effects were comparable betwixt those taking molnupiravir and those taking the placebo. 

We've reached retired to Merck for much accusation astir imaginable broadside effects.

Which different antiviral COVID drugs are there?

According to a New York Times tracker, 1 different antiviral cause has truthful acold been approved for COVID-19 attraction -- Remdesivir from Gilead Sciences, which was approved successful October 2020. The Times is tracking 32 different imaginable drugs successful antithetic stages of improvement and approval.

Unlike Merck's cause -- which you tin get from a pharmacist and instrumentality orally astatine location -- Remdesivir requires a wellness attraction nonrecreational to springiness you the medicine intravenously, done a needle. One dose tin instrumentality 30 to 120 minutes to administer, and the cause is fixed erstwhile a time for 5 to 10 days, depending connected the fig of doses required.

For much connected COVID-19, here's the latest connected COVID-19 vaccines for kids, what to cognize astir mixing and matching vaccines and what is happening with booster shots.

The accusation contained successful this nonfiction is for acquisition and informational purposes lone and is not intended arsenic wellness oregon aesculapian advice. Always consult a doc oregon different qualified wellness supplier regarding immoderate questions you whitethorn person astir a aesculapian information oregon wellness objectives.

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