First oral at home 'game changer' Covid drug that ‘slashes death risk’ gets green light for use on NHS

DRUGS that Brits could take at home to protect them from serious Covid illness have been approved.

The UK's drugs regulator today declared molnupiravir as "safe and effective" at slashing hospitalisations and deaths in people who have caught the killer bug.

In a release today, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said: "Molnupiravir has been authorised for use in people who have mild to moderate Covid-19 and at least one risk factor for developing severe illness.

"Such risk factors include obesity, older age (>60 years), diabetes mellitus, or heart disease."

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Today is a historic day for our country, as the UK is now the first country in the world to approve an antiviral that can be taken at home for Covid-19.

"This will be a gamechanger for the most vulnerable and the immunosuppressed, who will soon be able to receive the ground-breaking treatment.

“We are working at pace across the government and with the NHS to set out plans to deploy molnupiravir to patients through a national study as soon as possible

“This antiviral will be an excellent addition to our armoury against Covid-19, and it remains vital everyone comes forward for their life-saving Covid-19 vaccine – particularly those eligible for a booster – to ensure as many people as possible are protected over the coming months.”

US drug firms Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics revealed their antiviral drug molnupiravir cut rates of severe Covid by 50 per cent in a study.

Study results were taken from tests of the drug on 775 people who had recently tested positive for the virus but were not seriously ill.

They showed 7.3 per cent of people given molnupiravir ended up going into hospital, compared to 14.1 per cent of people who were not given the drug.

Dr Daria Hazuda, vice-president of research at Merck, known as MSD in the UK, said: “This is a very exciting day for patients in the global fight against Covid.

“It is the first antiviral that has shown efficacy in the outpatient setting for Covid. I think that’s game-changing.”

A first of its kind, the drug works by forcing errors into the coronavirus’s genetics when it reproduces.

By doing this it cripples the virus and stops it being able to multiply as quickly, stopping it taking hold in the body and allowing the immune system to fend off Covid.

Scientists in the UK welcomed the news but said the drug would have to be targeted at the most vulnerable people.

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