ATLANTA — Researchers at Georgia State University say they have discovered a new antiviral drug that completely suppresses transmission of COVID-19 within 24 hours.
The drug, called Molnupiravir (MK-4482/EIDD-2801), is taken orally as a pill.
Channel 2′s Tom Regan was at GSU, where he talked to Dr. Richard Plemper, the lead on the study.
“This is the first demonstration of an orally available drug to rapidly block SARS-CoV-2 transmission,” Plemper said. “MK-4482/EIDD-2801 could be game-changing.”
Plemper said the drug rapidly shuts down the replication of the virus in the body, derailing it to the point that the person is no longer contagious and can’t spread to other people.
[SPECIAL SECTION: Coronavirus Pandemic in Georgia]
Researchers said the drug can also inhibit COVID-19 patients from getting severely ill.
“From our animal model data, the drug will reduce the likelihood that a patient progresses to severe disease from viral pneumonia to potentially lethal consequences of COVID-19, so that’s a direct benefit to the patient,” Plemper said.
Plemper said that while the drug is no substitute for a vaccine, it could be very effective in slowing down the spread of the virus until a vaccine is widely distributed next year.
Researchers tested the drugs on ferrets and it is now in human trials.
Researchers said based on that study, COVID-19 patients treated with the drug could become noninfectious within 24 hours after the beginning of treatment.
Molnupiravir is currently in advanced phase II/III clinical trails. Ridgeback Biotherapeutics has licensed the medicine and is developing it in collaboration with Merck.
It’s unclear when the drug might be available to the public.
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