Covid Medicine: Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt announced on Thursday that Australia’s drug regulator has given preliminary approval for the use of two new drugs to treat Kovid-19. One of the drugs that have been approved is ‘Lagevrio’, manufactured by American pharmaceutical company Merck Sharpe & Dohme, and the other drug is ‘Paxlovid’, manufactured by Pfizer.
The number of hospitalization patients and deaths is increasing amidst the ever-increasing cases of Kovid-19 and in such a situation these medicines have come at the right time. The federal government has said that initially priority will be given to the elderly and those whose health is at high risk. Both companies have said that their drug is effective in the Omicron form, however, their claim is based on primary laboratory research.
What are these and how do they work?
Lagevario (generic name molanupiravir) is an antiviral drug. Paxlovid is a combination of the new drug Nirmatrilavir and Ritonavir, a drug already used in the treatment of HIV. Nimatrilavir blocks a key protein that helps the virus to replicate itself while Ritonavir blocks the components that break down nimatrilavir.
According to clinical trial data, Lagavario and Paxlovid are effective in reducing the level and severity of symptoms of the virus, thus saving many people from hospitalization or death due to the virus. Many changes in the Omicron variant have occurred in the ‘spike protein’ that the virus uses to enter our cells. This is one reason why these drugs are expected to be effective against variants such as Omicron, as they do not target the spike protein.
Are these drugs effective against Omicron?
This week Pfizer released a detailed report of PaxLovid’s results to the media, indicating that it is also effective against the Omicron form. These results are based on two laboratory studies conducted by researchers at Pfizer and have not yet been published. These have been shown to be effective in inhibiting the replication process of all forms of the worrying COVID-19 virus.
An independent laboratory-based study released online assesses drugs from both Pfizer and Merck. The study found that the nirmatrilavir present in Pfizer’s Paxlovid was effective in targeting Omicron and reducing overall virus levels.
The study found that Merck’s Lagevario drug also works against Omicron. The head of the Merck research laboratory said the company was confident that Lagavario would work against Omicron. It is important that this research is done in the laboratory and we still have to see how effective this Omicron is on infected people in real conditions. Before Australia, the US and Britain had approved these drugs and it is expected that in the near future, information will be available about their effective and safe.
What is the side effect?
It is important that no drug is completely safe and without side effects. So far, 7 percent of patients in clinical trials with Lagavario have reported serious side effects, most commonly diarrhea, nausea, and dizziness. Side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea and headache were reported in less than two percent of patients taking Paxlovid during trials.
The level of side effects may increase in a patient taking Paxlovid if he also takes any other medicine at the same time. The drugs that should not be taken with Paxlovid include anti-cancer, pain killers and heart diseases. Despite these drugs providing a credible opportunity in the fight against COVID-19, vaccination will remain a front line defense against the virus.
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