Merck Treatment Inhibits Covid Variants, Early Data Show
(Bloomberg) -- Merck & Co.’s Covid-19 antiviral drug, molnupiravir, appears to inhibit several major variants of the virus, including the highly contagious delta strain, according to early stage data presented by the company at an infectious disease conference early Wednesday.
The findings came out of laboratory research pitting the experimental drug against the variants in cell culture. Further research may be needed to confirm the results in human testing.
“It’s a really nice observation because it gives us confidence that it will work the same across the variants that are already out there, and potentially against any new variants that may emerge,” said Jay Grobler, the lead author and executive director of biology discovery at Merck.
Merck shares rose 1.7% to $74.55 at 11:48 a.m. in New York.
Molnupiravir, which could be taken as a pill, is being tested in a phase 3 trial expected to conclude in November. It is being developed by Merck in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP for use in non-hospitalized Covid-19 patients who have had symptoms for five or fewer days and are at risk for a severe infection.
The new research presented Wednesday also found that the prevalence of variants seen in Merck’s molnupiravir trials was similar to the representation of those strains around the world at the time, between October 2020 and January 2021.
The company will continue to look at the experimental drug’s clinical activity against variants, Grobler said.
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