The Minister of Health Olivier Véran held a press conference this Thursday, November 25 to announce new health measures to fight against the resumption of the Covid-19 epidemic. He said he “has a lot of hope” in the antiviral drug Molnupiravir.
The latter will be available in pharmacies from the beginning of December 2021. It will be a tablet, which a general practitioner can prescribe.
It concerns people at risk of severe forms, those over 65 or those with chronic diseases. Once they show symptoms of Covid-19, they will have to swallow the tablet within five days. Olivier Véran indicated that if it is taken within this period of time, the risk of being hospitalized is reduced by two. “France will be the first European country to benefit its citizens,” he said.
In December 2020, researchers had published, in the scientific journal Nature microbiology, the results of their study on ferrets. These animals indeed have coronavirus receptors similar to those of humans, and are also very close to minks, a species that has developed its own strain of the coronavirus.
And according to the conclusions of this study, “if the data […] ferret-based […] are predictive of the effect in humans, patients with COVID-19 could become non-infectious within 24 to 36 hours of starting oral therapy ”.
MOLNUPIRAVIR HAS ALREADY PROVEN
An oral antiviral drug, Molnupiravir has already been shown to fight influenza in several animals, such as mice, guinea pigs and ferrets. In tests by researchers at the University of Georgia, the drug was given to three sick animals, while three other infected specimens were given a placebo.
All were then placed in cages with healthy ferrets. And after eight days of daily testing, scientists found that none of the ferrets housed with their treated counterparts had contracted SARS-CoV-2. On the other hand, the disease had appeared on the fourth day in the others.
Beyond these encouraging results, the study officials believed that this treatment, “especially when initiated soon after infection”, had “three potential benefits”. It could initially “reduce the risk of progression to serious illness and accelerate recovery”, which would have a direct impact on the outcome of the epidemic, could “lighten the emotional and socio-economic toll” pandemic, avoiding forced isolation, and also limiting the appearance of clusters.