In the progress of finding out treatment for COVID-19, a disease caused by novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2, a study has shown an experimental oral antiviral drug completely suppressed coronavirus transmission within 24 hours.
A team of researchers from the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University has claimed that the drug Molnupiravir, also known as MK-4482/EIDD-2801, prevents the virus from multiplying itself, therefore preventing it from spreading.
For the study, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, the team led by Dr Richard Plemper, Distinguished University Professor at Georgia State, tested Molnupiravir's ability to stop novel coronavirus spread in ferrets.
“This is the first demonstration of an orally available drug to rapidly block SARS-CoV-2 transmission,” said Plemper.
According to Dr Robert Cox, a postdoctoral fellow in the Plemper group and a co-lead author of the study, “we believe ferrets are a relevant transmission model because they readily spread SARS-CoV-2, but mostly do not develop severe disease, which closely resembles SARS-CoV-2 spread in young adults.”
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In the study, the researchers infected ferrets with SARS-CoV-2 and initiated treatment with Molnupiravir when the animals started to shed virus from the nose.
When the researchers co-housed infected ferrets and then treated source animals with untreated contact ferrets in the same cage, none of the contacts became infected, the researchers said.
If these ferret-based data translate to human beings, COVID-19 patients treated with the drug could become non-infectious within 24 hours after the beginning of treatment, the study claimed.
They further said that the treatment can be started early as the drug can be taken by mouth and bring threefold benefits -- inhibit patients’ progress to severe disease, shorten the infectious phase to ease the emotional and socioeconomic toll of prolonged patient isolation and rapidly silence local outbreaks.
The novel coronavirus has infected 6.52 crore people across the world and killed 15.06 lakh patients so far, according to Johns Hopkins University data.Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.