While the world is aiming to develop vaccines to control covid-19, researchers at the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at the Georgia State University have found a way to control the virus’ spread. The researchers revealed that the treatment of deadly SARS-CoV-2 infection with the new antiviral drug Molnupiravir can suppress virus transmission in 24 hours.
Scientists said that preventing the widespread community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection until any mass vaccination is ready is vital for managing covid-19 and minimizing the serious consequences of this pandemic.
As the drug can be taken orally, the treatment can begin early for effective benefits: controlling patients’ progress to the severe disease, curtailing the infectious phase to prevent the socioeconomic and emotional toll of long patient isolation and rapidly local outbreaks.
Findings of the research
The research led by Dr. Richard, professor at the Georgia State, found that the drug is effective against influenza viruses.
Plemper said that it is the first experiment of an oral drug to quickly block SARS-CoV-2 transmission. He also termed the drug as game-changing.
Plemper further added that MK-4482/EIDD-2801 or Molnupiravir has shown broad-spectrum activity against many respiratory RNA viruses and treating the infected animals orally with the drug decreases the total amount of shed viruses up to great extent, reducing the transmission. These promising properties made MK-4482/EIDD/2801 a very powerful candidate for the control of covid-19.
The study published in the journal Nature Microbiology, the researchers repurposed MK-4482/EIDD-2801 against the SARS-CoV-2 and then utilized a new model to test the result of this drug on stalling virus spread.
Ferrets used as the transmittal model
Robert Cox, a research fellow and a leading author of the study said that ferrets are the most suitable transmission model as they easily spread SARS-CoV-2, however mostly don’t develop severe diseases, which resembles the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in young adults.
The research team infected the ferrets with SARS-CoV-2 and started treatment with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 when the ferrets began to release virus from the nose.
When the infected and treated source animals were placed with the untreated contact ferrets, none of them became infected. All contacts of the source ferrets that were given placebo became easily infected.
If these ferret-based study, covid-19 patients treated with the drug became non-infectious in 24 hours after the start of the treatment. MK-4482/EIDD-2801 is in the advanced phase II/III clinical trials against the SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The study was financed by public health service grant from the National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to Georgia State.