The New COVID-19 Antiviral Pill Provides a Way to Slow Down the Pandemic


Photo By Mpelletier1

Merck and Ridgeback Biotheraputics’ new anti-viral COVID pill is undergoing experimentation. It must be approved to begin distribution. Photo courtesy of Mpelletier1.

By Avery Hixson, Reporter

Since early March 2020, the whole world has been plagued by the COVID-19 virus. This virus took over the world in just a few months, changing how we live life every day. Tactics to prevent the spread of the virus have been tried and tried again, but it has killed over 4.5 million people worldwide and thousands of people are still dying from this virus every day. It seemed hopeless for a while, everyone waiting for a solution. However, a new antiviral COVID-19 pill could be a turning point in the deadliness of this horrible virus.

Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics have recently been testing an oral medication, Monlupiravir, whose goal is to reduce the severity of COVID-19 in diagnosed patients. Merck performed a test with this drug to determine if it makes any difference in unvaccinated people diagnosed with COVID-19. This test consisted of half the patients being given a placebo and half being given the drug. 775 patients were tested altogether. There were 28 patients hospitalized from the group who received the drug and 53 hospitalized who received the placebo. The oral medication reduced the risk of hospitalization by 50 percent. Considering the amount of people hospitalized from this virus every day, 50 percent less hospitalizations or deaths would be a remarkable change. It would make everyday life much less of a risk, decrease pressure on hospitals, and reduce the deadliness of COVID-19.

Throughout the whole pandemic, people have been searching in desperation for a simple medication like Monlupiravir. Something to give the illusion of a cure, or even just to help would make a significant difference. This pill has the potential to be something we’ve all been waiting for. When the first vaccine was approved for the public, people saw that as the start of a solution to this everlasting pandemic. But despite the widespread use of the vaccine, patients diagnosed with COVID-19 are still being hospitalized at a rapid rate. From what can be seen with the test results, this new drug could be a solution to the rate of deaths and hospitalizations.

Throughout the pandemic, the elderly population has been at more risk of being seriously affected by the virus, whether they are vaccinated or not. Although 51 percent of Texans are vaccinated, there were still nearly 10,000 people hospitalized on Tuesday, Oct. 5. Even worse, there were 262 people who passed away from the virus that day in Texas alone. The majority of these deaths were older people. Instead of being diagnosed and having to go straight to a hospital, this drug can ease the effects of the virus on people diagnosed with it and increase chances of survival and recovery. Merck’s new pill could be a turning point and a lifesaver for those at high risk. Children, the elderly, and those who are immunocompromised could see a tremendous reduction of risk in their daily lives.

For months, hospitals throughout Texas have been overloaded with COVID-19 patients. Because of the recent increase of cases in Texas, they have to deal with tremendous amounts of pressure. Doctors are overwhelmed with patients. The ICUs are overflowing. Hospital staff themselves are contracting the virus, and because of this unstoppable spread, it is only getting worse. On average, there are 12,400 new cases across the state every day. That is too much for our hospitals to be dealing with. If this pill is approved to be distributed, it would be a wonderful resource for hospitals to give to patients to get them COVID-free and out of the hospital as quickly as possible. If more people develop the antibodies for the virus, the spread will slow and will ease the grip this virus has on the world.

Like any drug, there are some flaws and uncertainties. This pill has not been tested with teenagers or children, so the effect that the Monlupiravir may have on the younger generations is unknown. Additionally, the cost of this drug would likely be very high, and the side effects are still undetermined. But the pros outweigh the cons in this situation. Older people are the ones who would be most inclined to use this drug based on their increased risk, and the pill is made to fix just that. Although it has to be taken twice a day for five days to be effective, the positive effects  significantly outweigh the hassle.

In conclusion, Merck’s new drug is amazing news for the world to slow down the pandemic. This pill may not necessarily be the end of the virus, but it would seriously impact the amount of deaths and the wellbeing of healthcare workers everywhere. There is more testing and approvals for this pill to come, and I have high hopes that this solution will be successful.

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