WHO recommendation on Merck's oral pill likely in early February

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A handout photo of an experimental COVID-19 treatment pill, called molnupiravir and being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP
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(Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently reviewing Merck's COVID-19 antiviral oral pill molnupiravir and a recommendation will likely be made by early February, an agency official said on Friday.

Janet Diaz, WHO lead on clinical management, said the WHO'S Guidelines Development Group is also getting ready to review Pfizer's oral pill.

"We will be looking at that (Pfizer oral pill) data in early February for publication likely at the end of that month."

Late on Thursday, a WHO panel recommended use of two drugs by Eli Lilly, and GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology for COVID-19 patients, adding treatment options as the fast-spreading Omicron variant renders many ineffective.

Talking about monoclonal antibody treatments, Diaz said some monoclonals are showing impaired neutralization against the highly infectious Omicron and may be less effective against it.

However, she said it was not a 'game changer' as multiple therapeutic options are currently available for COVID-19.

"We are also monitoring antivirals for development of resistance."

(Reporting by Mrinalika Roy And Emma Farge; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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