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This COVID-19 pill cuts risk of death, hospitalization by 50%

Merck released new data about its COVID-19 pill, which could help those who have the coronavirus

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Merck & Co. announced Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, that its experimental COVID-19 pill will help in the pandemic fight.

This undated image provided by Merck & Co. shows its new antiviral medication. Pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. announced Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, that its experimental COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected with the coronavirus and that it would soon ask health officials in the U.S. and around the world to authorize its use.

Merck & Co. via Associated Press

We have new data on the experimental COVID-19 pill from Merck — called molnupiravir — that looks to help those with COVID-19 face less severe illness.

  • Per Reuters, new data from Merck show that the pill reduced chances of death and hospitalization by 50%.
  • The pill would be similar to Tamiflu, which is used to limit symptoms of the flu.

Now, Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics will look to find emergency authorization for the pill sometime soon. They will need to submit applications to regulators throughout the world, like the Food and Drug Administration, before it can be used.

  • “This is going to change the dialogue around how to manage COVID-19,” Robert Davis, Merck’s chief executive officer, told Reuters.

The pill will be the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19. This would treat those who already have coronavirus — not prevent it like the vaccine.

Earlier this week, experts spoke about the potential pill, which has been known to clear up COVID-19 symptoms and slow the spread at the same time, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

Dr. Elizabeth Duke, a Fred Hutch research associate overseeing a trial of the pill, told CNN that she sees the pill’s potential to bring back normality.

  • “Think about that,” said Duke. “You could give it to everyone in a household, or everyone in a school. Then we’re talking about a return to, maybe, normal life.”