The first FDA-approved oral antiviral COVID treatment

Updated: Jan 24

Although massive COVID-19 vaccination efforts have reduced infections and deaths, the pandemic continues to impact our daily lives. Several breakthrough infections, and even some deaths, among fully vaccinated individuals, are especially concerning. Scientists realized the possibility of breakthrough infections and the need for successful treatment in addition to prophylaxis, resulting in almost a dozen therapeutic agents in development.

But despite the tremendous need, there hadn't been a single oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19 and just a few authorized drugs that need intravenous administration.

Now FDA-approved, Merck’s pill – ‘Molnupiravir’ – became the first oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19 that forces the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus to mutate itself to death. Molnupiravir is a nucleoside analogue that mimics some of the building blocks of RNA. It gets incorporated into growing RNA strands and initiates the conformational change causing a point mutation, and the accumulation of several such mutations leads to lethal mutation, causing the viral population to collapse.

Scientists believe that such an effective oral antiviral could be an incredible asset in our fight against COVID-19.