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Infectious disease doctor calls Merck COVID-19 pill 'very promising'

Posted at 4:12 PM, Oct 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-01 18:09:29-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A possible new breakthrough in the fight against the coronavirus. The pharmaceutical company Merck announced Friday its experimental COVID-`19 pill reduces hospitalizations and deaths from the virus by half.

It would be the first pill to fight infection from COVID-19, and doctors said it could change the game to help put an end to the ongoing pandemic.

"It looks very promising for us as far as having another tool in the war against this virus," said North Palm Beach infectious disease specialist Dr. Leslie Diaz.

On Friday, Merck said its pill molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by approximately 50% The oral antiviral medicaion fights the virus early after being exposed and helps prevent symptoms.

"The quicker you use it the better it's going to be effective," Diaz said. "It kind of like halts the progression of getting worse and allows the body's immunity to try to kick in."

Diaz said molnupiravir is impressive and exciting news, but it is not a vaccine.

"The vaccine itself is more of a preventative measure," Diaz said.

Merck said it will seek emergency use authorization from the FDA as soon as possible. Diaz said your best defense against COVID is getting vaccinated.

"I think we still should focus on the fact that the vaccine is very effective, very safe and it works," Diaz said.