Could the Merck Covid-19 Pill be a game changer in this pandemic?

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – On Monday the pharmaceutical company Merck asked the FDA to grant emergency use authorization for a covid-19 pill.

If granted, this would be the first oral medication approved for the virus — and could be helpful in the fight against Covid-19. 

 Molnupiravir is targeted toward unvaccinated people who develop covid-19 symptoms. Early trials show if the medication is taken twice a day for five days it can reduce the number of hospitalizations and deaths by nearly 50%.

“If the numbers hold up and you are reducing the risk or reducing the number of cases that progress to hospitalizations or death by 50% you can imagine the multiplier effect throughout the country and our community,” says Dr. Carlos Baleerio, Pulmnoligist at CHI Memorial.

But Local health care experts caution that this pill is NOT a replacement for the vaccine. 

 “ I still think the most powerful tool in our toolbox with respect to covid-19 is vaccination. As far as protecting our healthcare system and our ability to deliver incredible healthcare to our community, if we were to have another surge and have a tool that would keep individuals out of the hospital, that would certainly help our cause,” says Dr. Jay Sizemore, Erlanger Infectious Disease Specialist.

Physicians say that even though the data is preliminary, they are cautiously optimistic that this new medication will be used as a treatment for those infected with the virus.

“If we can go from not really having a specific treatment that reduces hospitalizations to one that is available orally and fairly easy to take, I think it would be great And with the combination of having an effective vaccine and now an effective treatment – that should make life much easier for everybody,” says Dr. Baleerio.

The FDA has not announced a time or date for when the panel will meet to discuss this  covid-19 medication.

If you are still in need of a covid-19 vaccination or want to learn more about the vaccine click here


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