Drug companies race to develop COVID-19 antiviral pill: will it work?

Scientists have made strides in tackling the global pandemic since it started, starting at the bottom, and now here.

Seeing huge advancements in vaccine technology and development, there is more hope of accelerating antiviral pipelines through the development of functional Covid-19 pills. In fact, Merck & Co., Inc., an American multinational pharmaceutical company, anticipate authorization for its COVID-19 oral antiviral drug, molnupiravir, by the end of the year, no earlier than November.

During this time, two other companies are also near the finish line.

A pill that works

(Photo: Photo by GEORGE FREY / AFP via Getty Images)
A pharmacy technician holds a hydroxychloroquine pill at the Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, May 20, 2020. – US President Donald Trump announced on May 18 that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for nearly two weeks in preventive measure against COVID-19.

A simpler and more practical approach to the treatment of Covid-19 is imminent, as clinical trials for several antiviral drugs are expected to become available in the coming months.

Unlike antibiotics which are used to treat bacterial infections, creating antivirals is much more difficult for several reasons. One limitation is that treating the virus is more complicated than treating bacteria, as the viruses attack our own cell reproduction. This explains why vaccines tend to work better against viruses than simple pills, because our immune system must recognize these invaders before we get too sick.

Right now, there are at least three investigational antivirals in their advanced clinical trials under development in the United States, Kaiser Health News reported on Monday. However, these drugs are more of an early treatment and prevention of disease than a cure, taken orally in pill form.

Pfizer, the co-developer of the first covid-19 vaccine approved in the United States, also announcement Monday the start of their large trial run, codenamed PF-07321332, a prophylactic.

Meanwhile, Merck is in a Phase II / III drug development trial earlier this month.

The companies Roche and Atea Pharmaceuticals had also started large-scale trials of their drug called AT-527 earlier this summer and intend to release data from those trials in the coming months.

Also Read: Mild COVID-19 Conditions Could Affect Brain and Body Months After Infection

How the pill works

Finding a highly effective treatment for covid-19 may be too good to be true and easier said than done, but this step is a great start. The production of these pills should help vaccines fight off the virus, as it interferes with its ability to replicate in a host cell, allowing the immune system to easily recognize and clear the infection.

Ideally, this would significantly reduce severe symptoms, hospitalizations, and serious illness. Scientists say prevention can work well against infection when taken prophylactically.

Merck’s molnupiravir has been designed to work by introducing errors into the genetic code of the virus and has also been shown to be more effective when given early in the infection.

One of the drugs approved for emergency use in the United States is the antiviral drug remdesivir, which “appears to help hospital patients recover somewhat faster”, but there is little evidence that it helps prevent the disease. dead. Other treatments like monoclonal antibodies have also shown promising results but are more expensive and less accessible than simple pills.

The FDA-approved antiviral drug Tamiflu might be the “most comparable,” but some scientists believe the opposite.

Also Read: China’s New COVID-19 Vaccine 79% Effective Against Delta Variant

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