The World Health Organisation has welcomed Merck’s announcement of its Covid-19 antiviral pill. On Tuesday, the health organization said that Merck’s announcement of the effectiveness of its experimental antiviral pill against the most severe outcomes of Covid-19 is certainly good news.

Merck, the U.S. drugmaker announced on Friday that the antiviral pill named “Molnupiravir” has been proven to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by around 50% for adults with mild to moderate cases of Covid.

In the phase three trial, it was discovered that the pill works by inhibiting the replication of the virus inside the body.

Why this matters

The international agency has said it awaits clinical trial data on the drug. The WHO’s technical lead for Covid, Maria Van Kerkhove said, “We’re looking forward to receiving the data from them. I think everybody wants earlier treatment so that we prevent people from actually, you know, getting to that severe state and actually dying from the disease.”

Once the clinical trial data is available, the consideration to approved treatment will commence by the FDA. If the antiviral pill is given the green light and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it would potentially be the first pill to treat Covid.

A potentially game-changing advancement in the fight against the virus, which is killing an average of more than 1,700 Americans per day.

According to health experts, while vaccinations remain the best form of protection against the virus, a pill like Merck’s could keep the disease from progressing in those who do get infected and prevent trips to the hospital.

What they are saying

Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program said that pills like Merck’s are considered a sort of “holy grail” for treatments, stating that the agency is still awaiting the raw clinical trial data on the drug.

Meanwhile, other drugmakers are also working on antiviral pills. In April, the CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, said that the company is working on developing a pill like Merck’s, stating that it could be available by the end of this year.

The CEO also said that world leaders and public health officials should consider the cost of the drug on patients. He said, “The cost of treating millions of people early could have a significant cost, and maybe worth that investment but we have to look at how that’s going to work”.