Is There a New Contender to Fight Covid-19?

A new antiviral treatment for Covid-19 is in the process of being approved by the FDA.

A new antiviral treatment for Covid-19 is in the process of being approved by the FDA.

Sophie Stringer, Staff Reporter

Drug company Merck has announced on Friday, October 1, that they are in the process of getting an antiviral pill that combats Covid-19 emergency-approved by the FDA to sell in countries all around the world. Merck & Co Inc and their partner, Ridgeback’s, new antiviral pill, molnupiravir, has been proven to decrease the risk of hospitalization or death in 50% of patients with Covid-19. Because of the positive results of the pill, Merck would like emergency approval from the FDA to release the pill and offer another treatment for Covid-19.


If released, molnupiravir will be available in many places but in short supply. Because of this, in the United States, prescriptions will be required to acquire pill. Molnupiravir is only one of two antiviral treatments, the other being monoclonal antibody treatment. Merck’s treatment is significantly less expensive than the latter, but it is still a large price of $700. Worries have arisen that this is unaffordable for many people in the world. Affordability is not just a concern for countless individuals around the globe but for developing countries, too. Fortunately, Merck is teaming up with many drug-makers in India to find ways to make the pill more accessible to poor countries.


The pill, while helpful, is not a reliable alternative to the vaccine. United States officials have stressed that it is imperative that people get the vaccine too, not just rely on the antiviral treatment. However, some wonder if people will prefer molnupiravir to the vaccine for many reasons, one of which being conveniency. The simplicity of taking a pill compared to the possible four-week turnaround of a vaccine makes Merck’s treatment seem effortless. Aanandi Parashar(10) confessed, “The new Merck pill will probably grow to be more popular than the vaccine, but people should still get vaccinated.” Many agree with her line of thinking, hoping that the CDC will make sure to clarify this if the pill is released.


Molnupiravir is designed for people who have already contracted Covid-19 but do not have a serious case. It is purely meant to reduce the effects of the virus while it is in your body. When the treatment is taken, it puts errors in the virus’ genetic code which stops it from multiplying. So, unlike the vaccine, molnupiravir is not made to prevent the vaccine but fights Covid while it is in your body.


Another prominent topic right now is vaccine passports. Vaccine passports are either digital or paper proof that one has been vaccinated. They are required to enter many facilities, but there has been much controversy over if they should be used. Could molnupiravir change this? With a new, less expensive treatment for Covid, the need for vaccine passports could be questioned. While it reduces the effects of Covid-19 while people have it, many people to not want to risk contracting the virus in the first place. Katie Brewer (10) speculates, “I think that the new Covid antiviral pill will not be a replacement for the vaccine when it comes to things like vaccine passports, because it doesn’t actually stop people from getting the Coronavirus. It just reduces its effects.”


Molnupiravir could be a game changer for this pandemic. If the FDA releases the treatment, people will have an accessible way to subdue the effects of Covid-19 while it is in their bodies. This advancement will impact people all over the world and take us one step closer to ending this pandemic.