Thor's hammer comes to the rescue! COVID to MOVe-OUT! : Dr. Aju Mathew
M3 India Newsdesk Oct 15, 2021
On October 1st, two pharmaceutical companies announced the launch of a take-at-home oral pill that can reduce the risk of severe COVID by 50%. Though vaccination continues to remain our first line of defence against SARS-CoV-2, this new find seems to display enough potential to finally show COVID the door.
I am going to set aside my usual practice of reviewing the latest published evidence. Instead, I am going to discuss a press release. It’s no ordinary press release. I think it is a possible breakthrough in our battle against the COVID-19 disease. Before I get to it, let me take you through the last 16 months or so.
We saw a global pandemic sweeping the globe. There was a desperate attempt to invent vaccines and newer therapeutics and techniques. There have been significant advances in all of these. We now have at least half a dozen effective vaccines and a couple of life-saving drugs. But the sad fact is that we are not out of the woods yet. Why is that so?
First, SARS-CoV2 has gotten efficient in transmission (e.g. Delta variant). Second, vaccines have helped reduce the risk for serious illness but have not created a major dent in curtailing the transmission of the virus. Third, the most effective therapies are expensive and cumbersome to administer. Now, let’s get to the press release. 
Time for COVID-19 to MOVe-OUT: Thor’s hammer may help save the world
On October 1st, Merck and Ridgeback therapeutics announced that the MOVe-OUT trial comparing the oral investigative drug called Molnupiravir (named after Thor’s hammer, Mjöllnir) versus placebo, in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 disease and having at least one risk factor for severe disease (obesity, older age, diabetes or heart disease) was stopped early due to significant efficacy results.
The drug was able to reduce the risk for severe disease by 50%. No deaths occurred in the group that took the drug versus 8 in the placebo group. The result was consistent across the various newer variants including delta, gamma and mu.
Most importantly, no greater risk for adverse events was recorded. We do not know how many participants in the trial were vaccinated, and whether there was any disparity in the number of vaccinated individuals between the drug and the placebo arms. We await the full trial report. But this press release is terrific news for all of us.
First, it is an oral drug that prevents viral replication. Second, it is possible that it may be effective as postexposure prophylaxis. Third, it appears to be safe. Fourth, along with vaccines, this could be the key to our return to a pre-pandemic World. The best news is that the company has already licensed the drug to five Indian companies for conducting trials in India.  We can expect the drug to be affordable and available in India if the data from the trials are consistent with what is shown in the MOVe-OUT trial. 
To read Dr. Aju Mathew's previous articles, click here: Dr Aju Mathew picks 3 clinical updates you should not miss, Dr. Aju Mathew lists 4 new updates in diabetes treatment, Dr. Aju Mathew presents top 3 updates on antibiotics, A hidden side effect of COVID-19 on children: Dr. Aju Mathew, Dr. Aju Mathew reviews 3 crucial studies on liver disease, New insights on LDL lowering therapies: Dr. Aju Mathew , Dr Aju Mathew lists 2 updates on dengue & Salt, health, & BP: Dr. Aju Mathew states 4 recent updates
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Disclaimer- The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of M3 India.
Dr Aju Mathew is a medical oncologist, haematologist, internist and epidemiologist practising in Kochi.
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