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MUSC doctors say new anti-viral pills may help to fight COVID-19

Woman taking pills close-up

Photo: Getty Images

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - If you caught COVID-19 and had the option of taking a pill that would lower your chances of having severe symptoms and ending up in the hospital, would you take it?

Doctors at MUSC weighed in and called the new COVID-19 medications “enormous steps in fighting COVID-19.”

As of November 2021, one of the main methods used to treat COVID is by using monoclonal antibodies.

If approved by the FDA, doctors at MUSC said three different anti-viral pills could also start helping adults with COVID as early as spring 2022.

“The vaccines have been a big step forward, but they have not been enough because we haven’t had enough people vaccinated,” said Dr. Michael Sweat, team leader of MUSC’s COVID-19 Epidemiology Project.

Manufacturers Merck and Ridgeback created Molnupiravir. This pill would be taken twice a day for five days, but doctors said the most critical step for it to work is making sure it is quickly.

“Once you have symptoms, you have a five-day window for this medication to be taken,” said Dr. Sweat.

Trial studies showed that Molnupiravir reduces COVID hospitalization by 50%, according to doctors.

Pfizer produced paxlovid, which doctors said brings your chances of being in the hospital down 89% when taken within three days of developing COVID symptoms.

“That’s taken two times a day for five days,” said Dr. Sweat.

Doctors said the third new option, Fluvoxamine, has been used for about 30 years as an antidepressant. If approved to treat COVID, it would decrease your odds of being in the hospital by 32%. Doctors said Fluvoxamine is also the cheapest option. “It’s only $4 for an entire course of treatment, unlike the other two which are more expensive,” said Dr. Sweat.

Doctors at MUSC said they are optimistic that some people will not be as hesitant to take these anti-viral pills as they were with the COVID vaccines.

“I do think there’s something special about vaccines that creates some concerns for people, but when people get sick, they’re quite willing to take a medication that they think will help them,” said Dr. Sweat.

MUSC staff said if approved, these pills would be prescribed by your doctor.

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