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Merck plans to seek emergency use authorization for pill to treat COVID-19

Posted at 5:33 AM, Oct 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-04 05:51:22-04

(WXYZ) — Health experts across the country say the nation may be turning a corner in the fight against COVID-19, but that doesn't seem to be the case in Michigan.

Nationwide, numbers are improving, and there's been a decline in COVID-19-related hospitalizations and daily cases.

On Friday, Michigan posted 8,058 cases in a two-day period, which averages out to 4,029 cases per day.

Thankfully, a new weapon may become available soon in the fight against the surge. Pharmaceutical company Merck plans to seek emergency approval from the FDA for its experimental pill to treat COVID-19.

The consensus among experts is clear – the best way forward is to get people vaccinated. But, this drug will be a valuable tool in the belt. If it makes it past the FDA, this small pill would be easy to administer treatment that could lighten the load for hospitals.

So far, clinical trials have exceeded the company's expectations. Originally, they planned to blind test the treatment on 1,500 patients.

"Half of them were going to get the treatment and half of them weren't. In the end, they stopped after about 775 of them had completed the study because the medication was so valuable to the ones that were receiving it," Dr. Molly O'Shea, who works at Birmingham Pediatrics, said.

Merck claims the drug reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by 50% for people with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.

O'Shea said it won't keep you from getting COVID-19 ,and it can't stop the surge of infections many experts see coming.

"The surge will come, or it won't come. I we are going to have another surge, the severity of the number of people in the hospital, the severity of the number of people getting seriously ill or dying hopefully will be significantly reduced as a result of this medication," she said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he is impressed by what the drug has shown it could do.

"We really look forward to the implementation of this and to its effect on people who are infected," he said.

While it could relieve many healthcare providers whose hospital beds are riddled with COVID-19 patients on the brink of death, experts say it can't take the place of a vaccine.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

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