Molnupiravir: A New Antiviral Drug Blocks SARS-CoV-2

Researchers from the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University have discovered a drug, MK-4482/EIDD-2801, or molnupiravir that is capable of completely suppressing virus transmission within 24 hours. The drug was originally developed against the influenza virus. The drug is a ribonucleoside analog inhibitor administered orally. The drug MK-4482/EIDD-2801 has broad-spectrum activity against respiratory RNA viruses.

This drug was hence repurposed for COVID-19 and the team studied its activity in a ferret model. Ferrets were selected as they readily spread SARS-CoV-2, but most do not develop severe disease. The ferrets were infected with SARS-CoV-2 and treatment with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 was initiated when the animals started to shed the virus from the nose. The infected and treated animals were co-housed in the same cage as untreated and uninfected animals.

None of the uninfected and untreated animals became infected.  These promising results indicated that oral administration of the drug can stop the infection and prevent severe disease. It can reduce the total duration of the infection, which in turn can ease the physical as well as the socio-economic toll of the disease. As it is administered orally it can help control local outbreaks. The drug is currently in advanced phase II/III clinical trials.

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