image: Marvel

New Covid Antiviral Drug Named After Thor’s Mighty Hammer

Mjolnir more like Gimme Mjore-nir!
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image: Marvel

“Whosoever holds this hammer, if they be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” Those words, inscribed along the side of Mjölnir (Thor’s magical hammer) took on new meaning this morning in the fight against Covid-19.

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According to The New Yorker, Emory University, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, and Merck (a pharmaceutical giant) have been working on a potentially powerful anti-viral drug that could “reduce by half the chances that a person infected by the coronavirus would need to be hospitalized.”

Emory researchers named the drug “molnupiravir” after Mjölnir – Thor’s mighty hammer! It was found to be so effective at smashing the virus that an independent committee asked them to stop the Phase III trial early because they considered it unethical to continue giving the control participants placebos.

It has already been approved for use in the UK and it’s possible that an “emergency-use” approval will come from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December. If approved, it could radically alter the treatment of Covid-19. People who test positive could pick up the dose of pills from their local pharmacy and recover in the comfort of their own home instead of waiting it out and potentially ending up in the emergency room with little recourse.

A full course of molnupiravir, a little orange pill, is forty pills: four capsules need to be taken twice a day for five days. The course also needs to begin within five days of experiencing symptoms.

Molnupiravir works by targeting the replication machinery of the coronavirus instead of the spike protein (which is what is targeted by the vaccine). The spike protein can mutate and evolve over time, but the replication machinery is “mostly set in stone.” Molnupiravir is also potentially effective against multiple RNA viruses like Ebola, Hepatitis, and Norovirus. Thor’s hammer is mighty indeed!

Pfizer is close behind with its covid antiviral drug, Paxlovid, as well. A potential game changer with the holidays looming and indoor social gatherings on the rise, we can only hope the drug becomes available and accessible in time to prevent a winter surge.

(via, image: Marvel)

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Brittany Knupper
Brittany is a lifelong Californian (it's a big state, she can't find her way out!) who currently resides in sunny Los Angeles with her gigantic, vaguely cat-shaped companion Gus. If you stumble upon her she might begin proselytizing about Survivor, but give her an iced coffee and she will calm down.