The wait for an oral antiviral against COVID-19 may almost be over. Friday, Merck reported its prospect halved the risk of hospitalization and death in phase 3, spurring it to stop the study and race to get emergency use authorization.
An effective oral treatment for mild-to-moderate COVID-19 is one of the big remaining gaps in the pandemic drug arsenal. Vaccines are stopping many people from developing symptomatic disease altogether and treatment of severe COVID-19 has improved throughout the pandemic. But options for recently infected, high-risk people are limited to relatively expensive and logistically challenging anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.