Now awaiting final approval by regulators abroad, the Merck antiviral pill will potentially be a miraculous way to cure COVID-19 infections in the majority of people. This being said, Israel is reportedly in talks with Merck over the potential supply of its antiviral COVID-19 pill, which has till now shown the capability to reduce hospitalizations and deaths by half.

Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said early results showed patients who received the drug, molnupiravir, within five days of COVID-19 symptoms had about half the rate of hospitalization and death as those who received a dummy pill. Merck only studied its drug in people who were not vaccinated. 

Source: Merck & Co Inc/Handout via REUTERS

According to local Israeli reports, the government has asked the pharmaceutical giant to supply “a suitable amount” of the drug if the pill is approved by regulators abroad. According to the report, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett mentioned the potential breakthrough drug during Sunday’s meeting of the coronavirus cabinet and said that although it was expensive, with the full course costing around $800 per patient, Israel would work to secure supplies if its use was authorized.

On the other hand, the US government has committed to purchasing enough pills to treat 1.7 million people, assuming the US Food and Drug Administration authorizes the drug. A decision from the FDA could come within weeks after that, and the drug, if authorized, could be distributed quickly soon afterward.

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Rhea Sovani

Author Rhea Sovani

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