The World Health Organization is awaiting full clinical data on the antiviral pill made by Merck & Co. Inc to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients and reduce the rate of hospitalizations.

This was announced by a WHO spokesperson today, a day after the company said it had applied for U.S. emergency use authorisation, according to Reuters.

In response to questions asked at a U.N briefing in Geneva, the WHO spokesperson, Christian Lindmeier, said, “Indeed, this is an interesting development. We would have to see the full data about it. If it holds true, then it is another weapon in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

What this means

Molnupiravir, the pill produced by Merck & Co Inc, is expected to reduce the rate of hospitalisation and death from Covid-19 by 50% in a trial of mild-to-moderately ill patients who had at least one risk factor for the disease.

However, Former U.S Commissioner for Foods and Drugs, Dr. Scott Gottlieb has explained why he’s optimistic about Merck’s Covid antiviral pill after the drugmaker applied for emergency use authorization to the Food and Drug Administration to treat people with mild to moderate Covid symptoms.

He says, “The topline data from this Merck study was probably the best treatment effect we’ve seen from orally available antiviral drug in the treatment of any respiratory pathogen, so this can make a real difference”.

The Merck pill is the first of its kind and if the emergency use authorization is given on the drug, it will be the first pill shown to work against Covid-19 and could be available to Americans by the end of the year.

Gottlieb commented on Merck’s pill, stating that it is part of an “overall, significant improvement in our therapeutic toolbox against this virus, not just with vaccines and therapeutics, but also with more accessible diagnostic tests.”

“We’ve seen sharp declines in the south, where delta’s largely run its course, so cases are coming down very sharply in populous states like Texas and Florida, but you’re seeing pretty dense epidemics in the midwest and plain states, and we still don’t know how the northeast and the northern states are going to fare,” he said.

He further predicts that a Covid-19 delta wave could hit northern U.S. states, despite the higher vaccination rates and higher prior infection rates.