The United Kingdom has approved an anti-viral pill that can treat asymptomatic Covid-19 patients, becoming the first country in the world to do so.
Molnupiravir, developed by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD), is designed to interfere with the virus and avoid its replication within the body.
In a statement, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said trials had produced pleasing promising results that showed it was safe and effective at reducing the risk of hospital admission and death in people with mild to moderate Covid-19.
In September, at least three companies were developing daily pills that can fight the coronavirus early after diagnosis and conceivably prevent symptoms from developing after exposure.
In the case of Molnupiravir, the enzyme that copies the viral genetic material is forced to make so many mistakes that the virus can’t reproduce.
That, in turn, reduces the patient’s viral load, shortening infection time and preventing the kind of dangerous immune response that can cause serious illness or death.
Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recommended the drug, Molnupiravir, for use in people with mild to moderate COVID-19 and at least one risk factor for developing severe illness, such as obesity, older age diabetes, and heart disease.
It will be administered as soon as possible following a positive COVID-19 test and within five days of the onset of symptoms, the regulator said, citing clinical data.