Please Don’t Call It a Game Changer, It Isn’t. The Vaccines Are!

Merck said in a press release today that an antiviral drug that they’ve been investigating “… significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization or death at a planned interim analysis of the Phase 3 among non-hospitalized adult patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19.”  They say that the investigational antiviral drug, called molnupiravir, cuts hospitalization or death by approximately 50%. The press release said that 7.3% of the 775 patients who received molnupiravir were either hospitalized or died (28/385) compared with 14.1% of placebo-treated patients (53/377); [p=0.0012]. No deaths were reported in patients who received the drug compared to 8 deaths in patients who received placebo.

The Phase 3 clinical trial was stopped early because the trial was approaching full recruitment of the Phase 3 sample size (1,550 patients) with more than 90% of the intended sample size already enrolled.

HHS has already contracted for 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir subject to the FDA giving emergency use authorization.

Here’s an article from Nature Structural & Molecular Biology that describes how the medicine inhibits viral replication preventing viral reproduction by causing lots of base pair mistakes which is called ‘error catastrophe’.

Editorial Note: While the results presented by Merck in their press release are impressive, these results don’t even come close to the protective effect that vaccines provide. Plus, vaccines prevent infection and transmission of the virus, while this drug only provides a treatment.

From a public health perspective, the vaccines are FAR superior. Additionally, over-promoting this drug (if it is given emergency use authorization) will give one more excuse to people that have been thus far unwilling to get vaccinated to skip the vaccine… as they’ll feel like this drug will provide a safety net under them if they get infected. In the mean-time, they’ll spread the illness to others.