A new antiviral drug, available for limited use in Australia, can reportedly wipe out “actively infectious” COVID-19, allegedly eliminating the virus from the body in as little as two days.
Participants in a European research trial were given 800mg a day of molnupiravir capsules. On day three of receiving the drug, which is sold under the brand name Lagevrio, all of the participants — who had previously received positive PCR tests — showed no sign of the virus, according to the Daily Mail.
An April 1 report from the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases states, “Results demonstrated that on day three of treatment, infectious SARS-CoV-2 was detected in zero of 92 of participants with infectious virus at baseline who received molnupiravir, compared with 21.8 percent of participants who received placebo.”
The promising news comes as cases of the latest COVID variant, Omicron BA.2, continue to climb in Australia where, in the last week of March, the average number of new daily cases soared to more than 56,000.
The study was conducted by scientists working for Merck & Co., manufacturers of molnupiravir.
In February 2021, Merck announced to the world that there was “no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19” with the use of another of its drugs — ivermectin.
Furthermore, Merck stated there was “no meaningful evidence for clinical activity or clinical efficacy in patients with COVID-19 disease” and the majority of studies that stated otherwise showed “a concerning lack of safety data.”
The company then focused on developing a new therapeutic to combat COVID-19 — one that is sure to make Merck a fortune.
In June 2021, the United States government had agreed to purchase 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir for $1.2 billion and by November, the government was reportedly exercising its option to buy 1.4 million more.
“That brings the total secured courses to 3.1 million and worth $2.2 billion,” Reuters reported at the time.
An October 2021 report from The Intercept stated that molnupiravir was developed with funds from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.
While it cost Merck $17.74 to produce, the company is charging the U.S. government 40 times that, or $712 dollars for the same amount of medicine.
The new wonder drug stood to make as much as $7 billion in profits by the end of 2021.
In Australia, molnupiravir is marketed by Merck Sharp & Dohme under the product name Lagevrio, in 200mg capsules, according to the Daily Mail. It was approved for use by people over the age of 65 (or for Aboriginal or Torres Strait islander people, those older than 50) and was added to Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Eligible patients with a doctor’s prescription can access the medication from their local pharmacy, and the recommended dosage is four capsules every 12 hours over a five-day period, according to PBS consumer information.
The effectiveness of the drug does, however, depend upon the patient taking it within five days of seeing symptoms of COVID-19.
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