New Delhi, Dec 23 (IANS) A Lancet study has found that antiviral molnupiranir (taken as an 800mg dose twice daily for five days) does not decrease deaths or hospital admissions among patients with Covid-19 infection who are vaccinated and at higher risk of mortality.
However, patients taking molnupiravir at home recovered more quickly (on average 4.2 days quicker) compared to the control group.
Previous studies among unvaccinated patients suggested that molnupiravir could help prevent hospital admission, but this study provides new evidence that policymakers should consider when formulating winter Covid-19 strategies.
“Although this trial found no benefit from molnupiravir treatment on its primary outcome, it suggests that this treatment could have other benefits when being used to treat Covid-19, such as a faster recovery time and reduced follow up with health services,” said lead author Professor Chris Butler from University of Oxford in the UK.
The WHO recommended molnupiravir’s use for patients with the highest risk of hospital admission.
However, studies have so far been conducted in largely unvaccinated populations and prior to the emergence of the Omicron variant.
This new trial was carried out in a majority vaccinated population where most Covid-19 infections were the Omicron variant and is therefore more applicable to the present situation in the UK.
The new study included 25,708 participants over the age of 18 (average age 57 years) with a higher risk of death or hospitalisation from Covid-19 infection.
Approximately half the patients in the trial (12,774 people) received 800mg molnupiravir twice daily for five days, which was taken at home, in addition to standard care. The control half of the trial (12,934 people) received standard care only.
There was no benefit observed in hospitalisation or death rates between the molnupiravir group and the control group.
In the group treated with molnupiravir, there were 105 cases of death or hospitalisation (0.8 per cent), while in the control group, there were 98 cases of death or hospitalisation (0.8 per cent).
“While it’s critical to ensure that patients who are likely to benefit treatment with antiviral treatments, such as molnuvirapir, receive them; using antivirals to treat patients who are unlikely to benefits carries the risk of further driving antimicrobial resistance, wasting resources, and exposing people to unnecessary harm,” said study co-author Professor Ly-Mee Yu from University of Oxford.
The authors caution that the benefits of molnupiravir use need to be considered in the context of the burden on healthcare services and cost-effectiveness.
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