Could A New Medical Discovery Be The Answer To Social Normalcy

Could A New Medical Discovery Be The Answer To Social Normalcy

For the last two years, peering out from behind our masks, we’ve been watching COVID-19 drastically change the dynamics of our day to day lives. Despite the big changes, we’ve all done our part as a community to keep this virus at bay, whether that’s receiving our vaccinations, covering our faces, or opting to connect with loved ones over Zoom.

Now, a new medical discovery could be the answer for a return to normalcy.

Earlier this month, pharmaceutical companies Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced the release of a new pill in the form of a tablet called Lagevrio (generic name: Molnupiravir), which is an antiviral that can be used to help treat COVID-19 infections.

COVID-19 is a type of virus. Viruses enter healthy cells, create harmful changes in the cell’s activity, which then replicate and attack other healthy cells.

The COVID-19 virus is especially harmful. Because of its intelligent make-up, it can disguise itself from our immune system and develop into new variants. The main role of the virus is to attach itself to the lining of our lungs which can lead to severe respiratory problems. The ability to disguise has also made it easier for the Delta Variant to continue spreading between people and thus, increasing infection rates.

While vaccines have helped us train our immune system to fight COVID-19, an antiviral treatment could be the gift we all need to ring in a hopeful new year. Current treatments help relieve symptoms, but Lagevrio comes in the form of a small pill which can destroy the virus if taken within 5 days of the infection starting. Composed of small chemical molecules, Lagevrio interferes with the replication process of the virus and eventually, makes so many changes to the virus’ genetic makeup that it can no longer survive.

This month, Lagevrio was approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), followed by a rigorous review of its safety and efficacy.[1]

Clinical trials showed that Lagevrio was able to halve the risk of hospitalisation in people with mild and moderate forms of COVID-19.[2] Furthermore, clinical trials showed efficacy against the insidious Delta Variant and other harmful and easily transmissible variants. Though the government has yet to confirm who will be eligible to receive this antiviral treatment, it is likely that older adults, above the age of 60, with mild/moderate COVID-19 and risk factors such as obesity,diabetes, and heart disease will receive the treatment first. Over time, it’s likely that GPs will be able to prescribe this medication to those who are confirmed to have the viral infection.

For now, the antiviral pill is only effective if taken during the very start of COVID-19 infection. To ensure protection, our doctors at (med)24 still recommend getting fully vaccinated as the first line of defence. Since many people are asymptomatic during the early stages of COVID-19 infection, it's easy to miss the window during which the antiviral treatment would be most effective.[3] (med)24 GP, Dr Amisha Mehta says that ‘It is still extremely important to get the vaccine. The vaccine works with your immune system, gets your body ready to fight the virus and may prevent you from getting seriously ill.'

As we continue to battle against the crippling virus that has changed our reality for the last two years, Lagevrio provides optimism for the end of the ruthless pandemic. Other antiviral treatments such as Paxlovid are being tested in the United States and could add to the reserve of treatments available to combat COVID-19.

If you have further questions about COVID-19 vaccines or have Long Covid and would like to discuss a treatment plan, book a same day or next day appointment with one of our GPs here.

 

 

References:

  1. Scudellari, M. (2021). How the coronavirus infects cells-and why Delta is so dangerous. Nature, 595(7869), 640-644.
  2. Chowdhury, M. A., Hossain, N., Kashem, M. A., Shahid, M. A., & Alam, A. (2020). Immune response in COVID-19: A review. Journal of Infection and Public Health.
  3. Mason, R. J. (2020). Pathogenesis of COVID-19 from a cell biology perspective.
  4. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. (2021). First oral antiviral for COVID-19, Lagevrio (molnupiravir), approved by MHRA. GOV.UK.
  5. Ledford, H. (2021). COVID antiviral pills: what scientists still want to know. Nature.
  6. Nogrady, B. (2021). What the data say about asymptomatic COVID infections. Nature.

 

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/first-oral-antiviral-for-covid-19-lagevrio-molnupiravir-approved-by-mhra

[2] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-03074-5

[3] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03141-3