Scientists in Ireland are working on a pill designed to reduce the effect of coronavirus on infected patients and prevent it spreading to others.
The new treatment is being developed by MSD Pharmaceutical, better known in the United States and Canada as Merck & Co.
The active ingredient is the drug, Molnupiravir, which was developed to treat flu. However, it’s thought that it could also be effective against Covid-19. Unlike vaccinations, it would be taken my mouth and is now in the advanced stages of development.
It would be given to patients who have already tested positive for Covid-19.
MSD Pharmaceutical, which operates at six sites in Ireland, says by the treatment would work by creating errors in the virus’ cells as they replicate, making them less likely to spread.
This would mean the infection would be less severe so sufferers would recover more quickly. They would also be less likely to pass the virus on to other people.
It’s currently undergoing trials and while the results look promising, the first full results may not be available until March.
Studies carried out on ferrets showed that the drug was effective at blocking the transmission of the virus within 24 hours. Trials are now being carried out on humans in the United States and the United Kingdom.
If they are successful, the treatment could be available in the second half of the year. It could then be available across the world, assuming it gets the regulatory clearance in each jurisdiction.