Fauci hails Merck's new COVID-19 treatment data

During a White House COVID-19 response team briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Merck's announcement about the efficacy of a COVID-19 antiviral treatment, called molnupiravir, is “very good news.”

Video Transcript

- Hi there. I wanted to see if you could react to this news from Merck about their antiviral pill that cuts the risk of death and hospital hospitalization by COVID in half. I know that this will have to go through the FDA process, but do you guys have an estimated timeline for when you hope this will be approved. And then, I know that you've also already reached an agreement for 1.7 million courses of this medicine, but are there plans to buy more, and how exactly what these be distributed out to the states?

- Dr. Fauci for the first part of the question.

ANTHONY FAUCI: Yeah, for the first part of the question, the news of the efficacy of this particular antiviral is obviously very good news. The company, when they briefed us last night, had mentioned that they will be submitting their data to the FDA imminently. The data are impressive. There was a 50% diminution. Of importance is that in the placebo group there were eight deaths, and in the treatment group there were no deaths. That's also very important and very good news.

We always hesitate to make any timelines. The FDA will look at the data, and in their usual very efficient and effective way, will examine the data as quickly as they possibly can, and then it will be taken from there. Because once a recommendation is made, then we go through the same process of getting the recommendation for its usage through the CDC. Thank you.

- So as to the second part of the question, you know, if, indeed, it is authorized, as Dr. Fauci just described the process, the federal government has contracted to purchase 1.7 million doses to make this therapy available. The government also has an option for some additional doses. If approved, I think the right way to think about this is this is a potential additional tool in our toolbox to protect people from the worst outcomes of COVID.

But I think it's really important to remember that vaccination, as we've talked about today, remains far and away our best tool against COVID 19. It can prevent you from getting COVID in the first place, and we want to prevent infections, not just wait to treat them once they happen.

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