Potential COVID-19 antiviral drug being tested in humans after proving efficacy in hamster study

A possible COVID-19 antiviral drug is showing early promise and effectiveness in hamsters, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.

The results revealed that the experimental antiviral drug MK-4482 “significantly decreased the levels of virus damage and disease in the lungs of hamsters treated for SARS-CoV-2 infection,” according to a statement.

The experimental drug, which is administered orally only, is now being tested in human clinical trials. Remdesivir, a different antiviral drug already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, can only be given intravenously.

The scientists said they found that MK-4482 was shown to be effective when given up to 12 hours before or 12 hours after the hamsters were injected with the coronavirus.

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The latest study involved three groups of hamsters: a pre-infection treatment group, a post-infection treatment group, and an untreated control group. For the two treatment groups, the scientists gave the hamsters MK-4482 orally every 12 hours for three days. The results showed that the hamsters had 100 times less infectious virus in their lungs than the control group and had fewer lung lesions than the control group.

The US Food and Drug Administration has only fully approved Remdesivir, an antiviral agent, for the treatment of COVID-19. It is recommended for hospitalized patients requiring supplemental oxygen. Additionally, the agency has granted emergency use authorization for another nine COVID-19 treatments.

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Medications approved for emergency use, administered intravenously and manufactured by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lily, have concentrated doses of laboratory-made antibodies to combat COVID-19 and are aimed at people who are at high risk for severe symptoms or have to be hospitalized.

Michigan will expand its use of COVID-19 treatment in hopes of substantially reducing its growing number of hospitalizations and deaths, state officials announced last week amid their efforts to reduce the nation’s highest infection rate.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the Remdesivir treatment could save lives, adding that it “very likely” helped then-President Donald Trump when he became infected last fall. Those who qualify, approximately 30% of infected residents, include seniors and those with pre-existing or underlying health risks.

According to Johns Hopkins, more than 31 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020. Since then, more than 567,000 Americans have died from the virus.

RELATED: Half of American Adults Have Now Received At Least One COVID-19 Vaccine Injection, CDC Says

Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at least one COVID-19 injection, the government announced Sunday, marking another milestone in the nation’s largest vaccination campaign, but leaving more work to do. to convince skeptical Americans to roll up their sleeves.

Nearly 130 million people 18 years and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine, or 50.4% of the total adult population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Almost 84 million adults, or approximately 32.5% of the population, have been fully vaccinated.

Associated Press and Megan Ziegler contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.

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