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Merck says this drug causes quick reduction in coronavirus infection

US drugmaker Merck & Co said on Saturday the experimental antiviral drug molnupiravir it is developing with Ridgeback Bio showed a quicker reduction in infectious virus in its phase 2a study among participants with early COVID-19.

“The secondary objective findings in this study, of a quicker decrease in infectious virus among individuals with early COVID-19 treated with molnupiravir, are promising,” said William Fischer, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, in a statement from the companies.

The antiviral is being currently tested in a Phase 2/3 trial that is set to be completed in May.

Merck decided to focus on therapeutics after its two COVID-19 vaccines failed to generate desired immune responses, prompting it to abandon the program in January.

About Molnupiravir

Molnupiravir (EIDD-2801/MK-4482) is an investigational, orally-bioavailable form of a potent ribonucleoside analog that inhibits the replication of multiple RNA viruses including SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. Molnupiravir has been shown to be active in several models of SARS-CoV-2, including for prophylaxis, treatment, and prevention of transmission, as well as SARS-CoV-1 and MERS. EIDD-2801 was invented at Drug Innovations at Emory (DRIVE), LLC, a not-for-profit biotechnology company wholly owned by Emory University. Since licensed by Ridgeback all funds used for the development of EIDD-2801 by Ridgeback have been provided by Wayne and Wendy Holman and Merck.

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