The world is abuzz over Merck’s new antiviral pill that promises to slash hospitalization from COVID-19 by half. The drug, molnupiravir, a hard-to-pronounce moniker named after the Norse god Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, comes in an easy-to-swallow pill.
According to The Atlantic, to be effective the drug must be taken within the first five or so days of illness. That is a tight window of opportunity, say healthcare experts, so there is a downside to its benefits. Molnupiravir works in a similar way to the drug remdesivir, the only COVID-19 drug currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so it’s not a totally new formula. The advantage of the Merck drug is that it is a convenient pill that can be taken at home, while remdesivir must be given intravenously, in a hospital or clinical setting over several days, after patients are really sick.