Approved anti-viral pill for Covid-19 needs ‘rethink’ due to Omicron variant

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England’s chief medical officer has said the anti-viral pill for COVID-19, which was approved for use in the UK, needs “rethinking” because of the Omicron version.

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Molnupiravir, which can be taken at home, is for people who have tested positive for COVID and have at least one risk factor for developing serious illness, such as obesity, age over 60, diabetes or heart disease .

Professor Chris Whitty said its rollout needs to be reconsidered to make sure it is targeted “in the right direction”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty (Jeff Gilbert/The Daily Telegraph/PA) , PA Wire
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It was approved for use in the UK on 4 November.

Professor Whitty said at Saturday’s Downing Street press conference: “On anti-virals, we have to reconsider a bit based on this new version, just to be sure we’ve got the right signals. It.”

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“There are so many different ways that you can use it in different ways, and we need to make sure that whatever we have in stock, which seem to be highly effective drugs, that we use in the most effective way. use the right people.

“Where you’re on the way from the beginning… working in their place, we need to think about that and I think we probably need to rethink that with the new version to make sure Yes, we are aiming in the right direction.”

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has previously said the drug is safe and effective in reducing the risk of hospitalization and death in people with mild to moderate covid, who are at additional risk from the virus. are in.

The drug, from Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), works by interfering with the replication of the virus and preventing it from multiplying by keeping levels low in the body.

Last month it was announced that 480,000 courses of molanupiravir had been secured after a study found it cut hospital admissions and death rates by 50% in mild to moderately ill patients who had There was at least one risk factor for the disease.

The UK was the first country in the world to approve it for use, and it was described as a “gamechanger” by Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

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