How does the anti-Covid pill developed by Merck work?

How does the anti-Covid pill developed by Merck work?
How does the anti-Covid pill developed by Merck work?

1is October, the American laboratory Merck announced that its molnupiravir antiviral pill halved the risks of death and hospitalization in patients with Covid-19. But what is the mechanism of action of this candidate drug? Video explanations of the magazine STAT.

It’s a new wave of hope, nearly a year after the first announcements on Covid-19 vaccines. Friday 1is October, the American laboratory Merck & Co. has released promising results from its antiviral pill molnupiravir, “The first oral treatment to provide encouraging results against Covid-19”, reads the magazine STAT, specifying that “Remdesivir, another antiviral, can only be given intravenously”.

The specialized site looked at how this new treatment works, the results of which have not yet been published in a scientific journal. “Sars-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19, is a virus with ARN, recalls the title. Chemically close toADN, but less stable, theARN is a succession of “Four nucleotides”, macromolecules essential for its viral replication.

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“Think of these nucleotides as bricks intended for the construction of a building”, offers the American magazine. Since, “In order to reproduce, the virus must create copies of its genetic material”, the solution provided by molnupiravir is to “Give viruses ‘false’ bricks ” :

These impostors weaken the building, which collapses, preventing the virus from reproducing. ”

“By stopping the viral replication process early enough in patients with Covid-19, explains the magazine, we can significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death ”.

The Merck laboratory filed on October 11 an emergency authorization request for molnupiravir with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the body responsible for the marketing authorization of drugs in the United States.

“Huge progress”

In recent months, the World Health Organization has recommended the use of two monoclonal antibodies to treat people who contract the more severe forms of the disease: tocilizumab and sarilumab, respectively manufactured by Roche and Sanofi, and usually prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis. But these treatments are very expensive: 400 milligrams of tocilizumab, or the dose for a person weighing 50 kilos, costs around 823 euros. “The existence of an oral alternative will revolutionize treatment [du Covid-19]”, says Benjamin Gewurz, virologist at Harvard Medical School, quoted by the journal.

Some patients may just take one tablet instead of having an IV or an injection. And that would be a huge step forward. ”


Launched in November 2015 by John W. Henry, owner of the daily The Boston Globe, STAT – also called Statnews – is an American information site specializing in health, medicine, biotechnology


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