As the world awaits a vaccine, new hope is emerging in the fight against Covid-19 in the form of an investigative drug, molnupiravir. If given orally, it will block transmission of the virus within 24 to 36 hours. What can paralyze a pandemic?
If a vaccine represents the most concrete hope in the fight against the coronavirus, the University of Georgia (United States) announced this Thursday, December 3, that it has advanced in the development of drugs that are administered orally or intravenously.
In an article published in the online journal Nature, researchers at Emory University point out that the antiviral MK-2282 / EIDD-2081 (molnupiravir under its trade name) is a major breakthrough sinceit suppresses disease transmission in less than 24 hours.
“This is the first demonstration of an orally available drug capable of rapidly blocking SARS-CoV-2 transmission, a reversible rule of thumb,” the investigators explained in their conclusion.
Patients with Covid-19 can become non-contagious within 24-36 hours
So far, the drug has been “tested on ferrets which transmit the virus effectively with minimal clinical symptoms that mimic the spread of a young adult human population”.
The investigators acknowledge that the “antiviral efficacy of” molnupiravir “in humans remains unknown”. However, they showed that “if data from SARS-CoV-2 transmission in ferrets can predict effects in humans, patients with Covid-19 could become non-infectious within 24 to 36 hours of starting oral treatment”.
Used immediately after infection, molnupiravir has three advantages: “reduces the risk of developing serious disease and speeds recovery, avoids isolation and confinement and, ultimately, blocks groups very quickly”. In short, a serious asset to end the epidemic.
Human testing has already started and is currently in phase II. No studies have yet been published on this first test.
The study released this Thursday will be analyzed by the scientific world before publication. The release of this experimental drug is not yet scheduled.
Until then, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck, the laboratories associated with the project, will have to dispel any doubts that have arisen over earlier versions of molnupiravir which had mutagenic properties that resulted in congenital abnormalities.