Merck Develops Pill to Treat COVID-19

A local pharmaceutical company, Merck, announced it has developed an antiviral pill that will be used to treat COVID-19 infections. This pill, which has been in testing for months, is said to reduce the risk of hospitalizations and deaths by almost 50%.

Dr. Thomas Fekete, a Temple Hospital doctor and professor, said this is promising for the pandemic and could be turning the tides. 

“I think having any more tools in your tool kit is always a plus,” Fekete stated.

During the height of the pandemic, a number of drugs and remedies were used to treat the virus, including immune-based therapy, Dexamethasone, and Hydroxychloroquine, experts say. Despite some early promise, none of these were found to be truly effective.

Fekete says that right now, around the country, hospitals are being hit hard by the virus and are reaching capacity. He hopes that the pill will alleviate some of the pressure on the hospital system.

Fekete is also optimistic about what this could mean for people’s confidence when it comes to COVID-19 concerns.

“If the mortality rate could be reduced by a substantial amount that’ll give people more confidence that there’s another backup plan.

Fekete emphasized that the pill should be viewed only as a backup plan and that the new pill doesn’t mean that the public can stop practicing social distancing measures. He says the goal for the pandemic is to stop the spread of the virus, thus, masks should still be worn.

“I have a seat belt in my car and I have an airbag. I don’t disable the airbag when I put the seatbelt on,” he noted.

For more information on COVID-19 on campus and in Philadelphia, watch Temple Update’s latest broadcast for stories like these and more.

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