Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday, 28 December, announced that the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) panel granted emergency use approval to the anti-COVID pill Molnupiravir for treatment of COVID patients in India.
Earlier, in November, the oral tablet developed for the treatment of symptomatic COVID-19 patients was approved by the United Kingdom.
The pill has cut down hospitalisations by half, its clinical trial revealed. How does Molnupiravir work? What is its dosage? Here's all we know till now.
Who manufactures Molnupiravir?
Developed by US drug manufacturer Merck, Sharp and Dohme (MSD) and Ridgeback Biotheraputics, Molnupiravir is a pill that is taken orally.
It is neither injected nor given intravenously.
How many tablets can one take in a day?
According to the BBC, the tablet is given twice a day to vulnerable patients who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and are showing symptoms.
It is to be given within five days of the onset of infection.
The pill was initially developed to treat flu.
How does it work?
The pill targets an enzyme that the virus uses to make copies of it. This creates a genetic code that prevents it from multiplying in numbers. So, the pill helps in keeping both the virus and the severity levels in check.
What do the clinical trials show?
The pill was given to 775 patients who tested positive for coronavirus. It showed:
Only 7.3 percent of those were hospitalised
But 14.1 percent who were given the dummy pill was hospitalised
There were no deaths in the Molnupiravir group
However, eight of those who were given a placebo died at a later stage
It is to be noted the clinical trial is yet to be peer-reviewed.
Can I take Molnupiravir as a preventive measure?
Not at all. It is advised only for those who test positive and are showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Is it available only in UK?
The United Kingdom became the first country to approve the antiviral drug. It will reportedly purchase 4,80,000 courses with first deliveries in November. On 28 December, India too approved the use of the anti-COVID pill.
Can vaccinated people take Molnupiravir?
Yes, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can take it – if they test positive. However, the government has not clarified the channel of distribution yet.
When will it be available in India?
There is no clarity on this yet. Watch out this space for more information.
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)