Cover Photo: Merck

Merck’s antiviral Covid-19 pill will be available in Singapore once it receives the authorisation and approval needed for use

It looks like Singapore will soon have a new treatment for Covid-19 after the country inked a supply and purchase agreement for an antiviral pill that is said to treat Covid-19 and to be effective against all known variants of the virus. 

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The antiviral pill was developed by Merck, a pharmaceutical firm in the United States and Canada. It worked together with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to create the drug which is known as molnupiravir and comes in a pill form.

The pill targets an enzyme that the virus needs to make copies of itself by introducing errors into its genetic code.

This enzyme that the pill targets is known as viral polymerase and has been seen in all the known Covid-19 variants such as Gamma, Delta and Mu so far.

Data that was acquired from its clinical trials suggest that the drug is most effective when it is taken early in the course of infection, according to Merck which is also commonly known as MSD.

Interim trial results also showed that the drug may be able to reduce the chances of hospitalisation or death by up to half for patients who are at a higher risk of severe disease.

“As the pandemic continues to evolve and surges are being reported in many places around the world, we are hopeful that we can make a meaningful impact on the pandemic through the development of an effective oral antiviral that can be taken in the earlier stages of the disease, outside of hospitalised settings to limit disease progression,” said Dr Nick Kartsonis, the senior vice-president of vaccines and infectious diseases and clinical research at MSD Research Laboratories.

So far, countries such as Australia, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Malaysia are in talks with the company to get hold of the drug for its citizens.

According to Merck, the medication will be available in Singapore once it has received authorisation and approval for use.

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