A new treatment option for Covid-19 could be on the horizon. Several antiviral candidates are likely to complete clinical studies in the following months. All of which will be given as a simple pill before or soon after an infection is proven. Antibiotics are among the most effective medicines ever invented, as they are used to treat bacterial infections. Unfortunately, however, for a variety of reasons, we have significantly fewer antivirals available.
For example, creating medications that can safely stop a virus is more complex than creating treatments to prevent bacteria. This is because viruses hijack our cells to reproduce (some bacteria can as well, but most that give us issues don’t). That’s why vaccines are often our first line of defense against viruses. Vaccines teach the immune system to recognize a specific virus before it infects a person, ideally preventing them from becoming ill in the first place.
They’re also administered orally as a pill, unlike the antivirals that have seen limited use throughout the epidemic. Pfizer announced the initiation of a significant trial testing its prophylactic candidate, code-named PF-07321332, on Monday. Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics started a Phase II/III trial of their medication molnupiravir earlier this month. Earlier this summer, Roche and Atea Pharmaceuticals launched large-scale trials of their AT-527 medication.