Yale doctor says Merck COVID pill not a replacement for vaccine


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Drugmaker Merck announced promising results Friday for a pill that can cut the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 in half. The company is even planning to ask for emergency use authorization.

The study involved 775 patients at 170 sites around the world. The participants all had COVID with symptoms. Some got the drug molnupiravir, while others got the placebo.

“They found that people who got the placebo, 14% of them were hospitalized, eight people died,” explained Yale Medicine physician Dr. Jaimie Meyer.

Of those who got the Merck pill, only 7% were hospitalized and no one died, showing that the pill is effective at preventing hospitalizations or death in people with mild to moderate COVID, according to Meyer.

She stresses that the pill would absolutely not be a replacement for a COVID vaccine.

“The vaccine is the first-line mechanism, our first-line tool for preventing hospitalizations and death from COVID,” Meyer said.

She said the pill to take at home could replace monoclonal antibodies like Regeneron which are only available through IVs.

Meyer said the study participants all had at least one risk factor for severe disease.

The study results were so strong, Merck is already planning to move forward.

“We have decided to stop the study that’s underway and we will now move as quickly as possible to file for emergency use authorization in the coming weeks,” said Merck CEO Robert M. Davis.

Pregnant women or those with even the chance of getting pregnant were not part of this trial.

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