After nearly two years of a Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci is finally throwing his influential weight behind an experimental new treatment for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that he says has gotten “impressive” results.
The director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke out recently about molnupiravir, an oral treatment manufactured by Merck.
At a press conference Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the president’s chief medical adviser, described the trial results as “impressive” and “very good news.”
A promising experimental drug from Merck, molnupiravir, has bolstered hopes of finding a simple at-home treatment for Covid-19.
— POLITICO (@politico) October 1, 2021
“The news of the efficacy of this particular antiviral is obviously very good news,” White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said at the briefing. “The company, when they briefed us last night, had mentioned that they will be submitting their data to the FDA imminently.”
“The FDA will look at the data and in their usual, very efficient and effective way, will examine the data as quickly as they possibly can, and then it will be taken from there,” Fauci said.
Politico reported on the medical trial’s developments:
All 775 participants included in Merck’s interim analysis had tested positive for mild or moderate Covid-19 within five days of joining the study. And all study participants were unvaccinated and had at least one condition that increased their risk of developing severe Covid-19 — such as being older than 60, obese or having diabetes or heart disease.
Just over 7 percent of patients who received the drug, which is taken twice a day for five days, had been hospitalized through the 29th day of the study. Roughly 14 percent in the placebo group were hospitalized or died, Merck said.
No deaths were reported in patients given molnupiravir during that time, but eight people given the placebo died. Side effects were mild.
The FDA and Merck have agreed to suspend the trial and to allow for Emergency Use Authorization.
CNBC reported on the EUA application:
Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said Friday they’ve developed a drug that reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by around 50% for patients with mild or moderate cases of Covid.
The companies plan to seek emergency authorization for the antiviral Covid treatment after the medicine showed “compelling results” in clinical trials.
The drug, molnupiravir, is administered orally and works by inhibiting the replication of the coronavirus inside the body.
An interim analysis of a phase 3 study found that 7.3% of patients treated with molnupiravir were hospitalized within 29 days. Of the patients who received a placebo, 14.1% were hospitalized or died by day 29. No deaths were reported in patients who were given molnupiravir within the 29-day period, while eight deaths were reported in placebo-treated patients.
Merck, of course, is he manufacturer of Ivermectin, which has been smeared in the press despite the CDC in 2019 recommending it as an anti-parasitic medication for human treatment. Ivermectin is chemically much different than molnupiravir. However, Ivermectin is relatively cheap to purchase on the market.
In February, Merck issued a statement disavowing Ivermectin’s suitability for Covid-19 treatment.
Company scientists continue to carefully examine the findings of all available and emerging studies of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 for evidence of efficacy and safety. It is important to note that, to-date, our analysis has identified:
- No scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies;
- No meaningful evidence for clinical activity or clinical efficacy in patients with COVID-19 disease, and;
- A concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.
We do not believe that the data available support the safety and efficacy of ivermectin beyond the doses and populations indicated in the regulatory agency-approved prescribing information
However, a study in the American Journal of Therapeutics published in June 2021 drew a much different conclusion.
“Moderate-certainty evidence finds that large reductions in COVID-19 deaths are possible using ivermectin. Using ivermectin early in the clinical course may reduce numbers progressing to severe disease,” the study concluded. “The apparent safety and low cost suggest that ivermectin is likely to have a significant impact on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic globally.”
Ivermectin was touted recently as having played a major role in India’s recovery from Covid, even as it remains a relatively low-vaccination country. However, it was recently removed from India’s medical Covid treatment protocol.
“Studies also found there was no clarity on mortality benefit, no effect on length of hospital stay and recovery in case of Ivermectin,” India Today reported.
“Recommending that Ivermectin be dropped from the clinical guidance, experts cited 13 systematic reviews of which ‘7/13 showed mortality benefit, 4/13 no mortality benefit, 2/13 inconclusive/unclear’,” the report continued. Over half of the studies, therefore, showed ‘mortality benefit’ according to the experts.
One plausible reason for the pharmaceutical company abandoning Ivermectin as a potential Covid-19 treatment is simple: Profit motive.
“The average cost for 4 Tablet(s), 3mg each of the generic (ivermectin) is $21.09,” WebMD recently noted, although prices are rapidly increasing, adding that “you can buy ivermectin at the discounted price of $11.44.”
The U.S. government is set to buy 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir at $700 each, Reuters reported on Friday.