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Covid-19: Merck’s pill approved in the UK

The treatment against Covid-19 from the Merck laboratory was authorised in the United Kingdom on Thursday 4 November. The UK is the first country to allow the use of this pill.

The United Kingdom announced on Thursday 4 November that it was the first country to authorise molnupiravir, a pill treatment against Covid-19 developed by the American laboratory Merck, which is considered a crucial tool in the fight against the pandemic.

Covid-19: Merck ‘s pill approved in the UK

“Today is a historic day for our country, as the UK is now the first country in the world to approve an antiviral that can be taken at home against Covid-19,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement. “This will be a game changer for the most vulnerable and immunocompromised, who will soon be able to receive the revolutionary treatment.

A pill for ‘mild’ Covid in patients with co-morbidities

Molnupiravir has been approved by the UK regulatory agency, the MHRA, for use in people with mild to moderate Covid who have at least one risk factor for developing severe disease (obesity, over 60s, diabetes, heart disease).

Antivirals such as molnupiravir work by decreasing the ability of a virus to replicate itself, thus slowing down the disease.

Their application can be twofold: both to allow those already infected not to suffer severe symptoms, but also to prevent those who have been in close contact from developing it.

Given to patients within days of a positive test, the treatment halves the risk of hospitalisation, according to a clinical trial conducted by Merck, also known as MSD outside the US.

480,000 pills ordered by the UK

The UK government, faced with some of the highest rates of Covid-19 infections in the world, announced on 20 October that it had ordered 480,000 treatments of molnupiravir. It also signed a contract for 250,000 treatments of ritonavir, another antiviral from the American laboratory Pfizer already used against HIV, whose effectiveness against the coronavirus is the subject of clinical trials. France has ordered 50,000 doses of the Merck pill.

These treatments are intended for patients deemed to be most at risk, in order to reduce the pressure on hospitals.

Should the green pass be extended until the summer of 2022?

One of the European countries most affected by the pandemic, with more than 140,000 deaths, the UK is seeing increased pressure on its hospitals, with around 1,000 hospitalisations per day and almost 9,000 patients currently hospitalised with Covid-19. But this is still a far cry from the peaks of the last few waves, raising fears of a difficult situation this winter.

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