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Remember the COVID-19 treatment pill? This country just approved it

One country has officially approved the COVID-19 pill to help treat the novel coronavirus

SHARE Remember the COVID-19 treatment pill? This country just approved it
The new antiviral medication from pharmaceutical company Merck & Co.

This undated image provided by Merck & Co. shows their new antiviral medication. The Pharmaceutical company said 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

The United Kingdom became the first country in the world Thursday to approve the COVID-19 antiviral pill from the U.S. company Merck, a potentially game-changing move in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, per Reuters.

Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency Thursday recommended the drug — called molnupiravir — for those who have mild or moderate cases of COVID-19 and at least one significant risk factor, such as obesity or diabetes.

  • The drug will be administered after someone tests positive for COVID-19 and within five days of symptoms, the agency said.

This is the first time the drug has received a green light from a country. The U.S. is reportedly set to consider the drug next month for potential authorization, according to Reuters.

In October, Merck applied to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its antiviral pill, which would treat coronavirus symptoms similar to how Tamiflu helps those infected with the flu, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • The pill is “a convenient, relatively inexpensive treatment” that “could reach many more high-risk people sick with Covid than the cumbersome antibody treatments currently being used,” according to The New York Times.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the FDA, said the antiviral pill would help end the “pandemic phase” of the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr. Brandon Webb, an Intermountain Healthcare infectious diseases physician, told the Deseret News that the drug “is poised to have a huge impact on the way we treat patients.”

  • “Even though this certainly can be a game changer, it’s still very important to look at primary prevention, including preventive measures and vaccinations, as the more effective and the more efficient way of preventing hospitalizations and death,” he said.