Answers To Topmost Queries On New COVID Pills


  • The past two months have brought extremely good news in the fight against Covid-19.
  • That drug, molnupiravir, reduced hospitalizations by 50% and prevented deaths entirely a large randomized clinical trial when it was given within five days of when symptoms began.
  • A pill is a huge leap in terms of logistical ease over infused therapies like monoclonal antibodies.
  • PCR tests can take days to return a result, and though the Biden administration has upped its effort to expand the availability of at-home rapid tests, finding one at a store is still hit or miss — success feels like scoring this holiday season’s hottest gift.

In the fight against Covid-19, the last two months have delivered a lot of excellent news. Two distinct oral medications have been shown to be beneficial in both reducing hospitalisation and death in patients newly diagnosed with Covid-19 as reported by Stat.

After data on the second Covid tablet became available, President Biden declared, “We’re accelerating our road out of this pandemic.”

By the end of the year, the US could have an emergency usage authorisation.

When given within five days of the onset of symptoms, molnupiravir reduced hospitalizations by 50% and completely averted deaths in a major randomised clinical trial.

Paxlovid, like the Merck medication, is taken in a five-day period.

Despite the comparable topline outcomes, the drugs may have different risks and advantages.

The firms have only released information in press releases rather than scientific studies, and doctors need to learn a lot more about both.

Which one works better?

Pfizer’s pill lowered the chance of hospitalisation and mortality by 89%, whereas Merck’s medication reduced the risk by 50%.

Patients who started taking Pfizer’s tablet, Paxlovid, within three days after their initial Covid-19 symptoms accounted for 89% of the total.

In each research, patients in the treatment group were less likely than those in the placebo group to drop out due to adverse effects.

Neither business has provided specific information about the types or severity of adverse effects.

Each treatment is given twice a day for five days, resulting in a total of ten doses.

Pfizer’s medication is used in combination with ritonavir, a popular antiviral.

Would they work better in combination? 

Antiviral medication combinations are the standard treatment for HIV patients because they lower the likelihood of resistance induced by virus mutations.

“However, the National Institutes of Health or others may be able to do so, and I believe it is critical that they begin developing a combination therapy.”

Most patients have recovered from SARS-CoV-2, although it is a faster-evolving virus.

“We see the most evolution in immunocompromised people who have had SARS-Cov-2 infections for a long time,” she said.

Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s head of research and development, argued in an interview with STAT after the company’s data were released that Pfizer’s antiviral is potent enough to protect against new strains and already has strong efficacy and that combining the drugs would only increase the risk of side effects.

Will the antiviral be available with breakthrough infections?

Both firms focused their research on individuals who were at high risk of developing difficulties if they contracted Covid and who had not been immunised.

That raises a major policy question: Should persons who have been vaccinated but acquire a breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 illness be given the pills?

That is now an unanswered question.

A third antiviral tablet, developed by the biotech company Atea and the giant pharmaceutical company Roche, failed to show efficacy in its own study, and Wall Street analysts believe the reason is that the companies included vaccinated patients in the study.

Hospitalization and mortality are substantially less common among people who have taken the vaccine.

Hospitalization and mortality are substantially less common among people who have taken the vaccine.

Because there are fewer infections to avoid, it is more difficult for medicine to demonstrate efficacy

Do the drugs work the same way?

While both medications interfere with the coronavirus’s ability to reproduce itself, each treatment does it in a different way.

Merck’s medicine throws a spanner in the gears from the start.

When molnupiravir is taken, it transforms into something that looks uncannily like one of RNA’s basic building blocks.

This eventually leads to a situation known as a mistake catastrophe.

“It introduces so many distinct mutations that nothing else can happen,” Katherine Seley-Radtke, a medicinal chemist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, explained. It even permits those strings to be utilised to make viral proteins, which are made in a single large chunk at first.

The medicine is meant to bind to a critical location in a protease enzyme, which cuts proteins into small pieces.

The virus can’t make functional copies without a working protease; no virus, no problem.

Protease inhibitors have been employed in the development of more than a dozen HIV and hepatitis C medications, as well as cancer therapies in some situations.

Paxlovid was created with a SARS-CoV-2-specific protease in mind, therefore it targets this coronavirus more specifically than molnupiravir.

Paxlovid, on the other hand, will not work as well if taken alone.

How do they compare with monoclonal antibodies?

Both Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly have received FDA approval for antibody combo therapy to prevent hospitalisation and death in Covid-19 patients who have just been diagnosed.

Lilly’s treatment showed an 87% reduction in a similar study.

The most significant distinction is one of convenience.

Regeneron and Lilly have agreed to sell their therapies to the federal government for around $1,250 per dose.

Pfizer is still discussing contracts, although Paxlovid is expected to be priced similarly.

How easy will they be to get?

In comparison to injected medicines like monoclonal antibodies, a tablet is a big logistical jump.

However, if it were ever approved for outpatient usage, it would face the same logistical hurdles as an infused therapy.)

Nonetheless, the Covid tablets provide a significant issue of their own.

And the testing landscape in the United States is still limited.

Though the Biden administration has increased its efforts to boost the availability of at-home quick testing, obtaining one in a shop is still hit or miss – success feels like scoring this Christmas season’s hottest gift.

Will it affect a patient’s DNA?

Because it functions by sneaking subtly corrupted bits into the coronavirus’s RNA sequence, this is essentially only a question for Merck’s molnupiravir.

The virus can no longer function if it has mutated too much – job achieved.

If mutations occur as a result of that process, it might spell disaster.

Merck’s experts found no elevated risk of undesired mutations in two types of animal tests using larger and longer doses than those given to people.

According to a transcript in the financial database Sentie, executive vice president Dean Li told investors in an October conference call, “We are quite confident in the safety profile of molnupiravir based on our preclinical and clinical evidence.”

Swanstrom of UNC, on the other hand, isn’t sure that Merck’s tests were sufficiently sensitive.

He and his colleagues released a report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases in August revealing that molnupiravir’s main metabolite could cause DNA mutations in animal cells.

“This is going to affect tens of thousands of individuals.”

It could be as simple as getting a dental X-ray, or it could be much more.

But unless we figure it out, we’re going to have to learn this lesson the hard way, much later than we should.”

What might the new antivirals mean for cancer patients?

Infectious illness specialists are familiar with the new antiviral Pfizer is developing because it is a protease inhibitor.

Tobias Hohl, chief of the infectious diseases section at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, told STAT that these medications have the potential to interfere with numerous cancer therapy.

“They’ll be very useful [in our] arsenal,” he added, “but they won’t be a replacement for preventative or immunisation initiatives because these aren’t absolutely innocent and innocuous in terms of drug-drug interactions and toxicity.” ” As a result, we’ll have to be cautious and deliberate in our use of public relations.”

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Source: Stat


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