Studies conducted by researchers at the Institute for Biomedical Sciences, Georgia State University have revealed that a new antiviral medicine known as Molnupiravir can halt the transmission of the virus causing COVID-19. The medicine demonstrated the ability to stop Coronavirus transmission in ferrets within 24 hours.
What is Molnupiravir?
Molnupiravir is an oral antiviral medicine initially developed for treating influenza. It has now been repurposed to treat COVID-19 after being tested on ferrets. Molnupiravir has been noted to have broad-spectrum activity against respiratory RNA viruses such as the ones causing MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), and now the SARS-CoV-2.
The medicine is being developed by American pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
What did initial trials of Molnupiravir reveal?
Molnupiravir was initially tested on ferrets as their lung physiology is identical to that of humans. Coronavirus was injected into six ferrets and then treated with Molnupiravir after they started to shed the virus. It was observed over a 4-day period that the infected ferrets did not infect the other ferrets kept with them.
The study also indicated that the medicine can act quickly to block COVID-19 transmission if it is given as soon as the subject is infected with the virus.
How is Molnupiravir beneficial for COVID-19 infections?
From the Georgia State University study it was concluded that Molnupiravir can:
- Reduce the number of days of infection
- Block the progress of the infection thereby preventing COVID-19 complications and outcomes
- Suppress the transmission of the Coronavirus and curb rapid community transmission.
What is the latest on this antiviral medicine?
The antiviral has successfully completed phase 1 human trials and is currently undergoing clinical 2 and 3 human trials. The results of the trials are still awaited.
Is India planning to conduct trials of Molnupiravir?
Discussions are being held between Merck and scientists at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to launch clinical trials of Molnupiravir in India. The CSIR has plans to apply to the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) for launching the trials.
The scientists believe that until an effective vaccine is available, medicines such as Molnupiravir could help COVID-19 patients recover while also breaking the chain of transmission.
What are some of the medicines that are currently used to treat COVID-19?
Some of the medicines that have shown to be effective and are currently being used to control COVID-19 symptoms include hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, remdesvir, favipiravir, aspirin, metformin, and dexamethasone. The efficacy of these medicines is being evaluated by the ‘Solidarity Trials’ organised by the World Health Organization (WHO).