In a study from the University of Oxford, scientists found molnupiravir (taken as an 800mg dose twice daily for five days) does not reduce hospital admissions or deaths in vaccinated adults with COVID-19 infection who are at higher risk of mortality.
However, the patients treated at home with molnupiravir recovered quicker compared to the control group.
Previous studies suggested that molnupiravir is effective at reducing hospital admissions in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 and WHO recommends its use for patients with the highest risk of hospital admission.
However, studies have so far been conducted in largely unvaccinated populations and prior to the emergence of the omicron variant.
In the study, the team examined a majority-vaccinated population where most COVID-19 infections were the omicron variant.
The study included 25,708 participants over the age of 18 (average age 57 years) with a higher risk of death or hospitalization from COVID-19 infection from health centers across the UK.
Molnuvirapir was sent directly to the trial participants and was able to be taken orally at home.
Approximately half the patients in the trial (12,774 people) received 800mg molnupiravir twice daily for five days, which was taken at home, in addition to standard care.
The control half of the trial (12,934 people) received standard care only.
Although this trial found no benefit from molnupiravir treatment on its primary outcome, the trial suggests that this treatment could have other benefits when being used to treat COVID-19, such as a faster recovery time and reduced follow-up with health services.
This could help to ease the burden on UK health services through the treatment of selected patients at home, during times of high disease burden and pressure on key services.
The researchers, therefore, hope this new evidence will be of use to policymakers when preparing strategies for managing COVID-19 infections over the winter.
The study was conducted by Professor Chris Butler et al and published in The Lancet journal.
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