Molnupiravir trial
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: An experimental COVID-19 treatment pill called molnupiravir being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, is seen in this undated handout photo released by Merck & Co Inc and obtained by Reuters May 17, 2021. Merck & Co Inc/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. THIS IMAGE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY, AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY/File Photo

Britain will start to roll out Merck’s molnupiravir Covid-19 antiviral pill through a drug trial later this month, Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency said on Sunday (November 7).

Last week Britain became the first country in the world to approve the potentially game-changing Covid19 antiviral pill, jointly developed by US-based Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

The government said in October it had secured 480,000 courses of the Merck drug, as well as 250,000 courses of an antiviral pill developed by Pfizer Inc.

Asked about the molnupiravir approval, Hopkins told BBC television: “That is great news and it will start to be rolled out through a drug trial in the end of this month/the beginning of December.”

Hopkins said all the trials so far had been done with the unvaccinated, so this would help understand how it will work in the wider vaccinated population.

“The new Pfizer drug is probably not going to be licensed until the new year some time,” she added. “It is still likely to be a couple of months away.”

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