More COVID treatments could roll out with Merck applying for emergency use authorization


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Merck has applied for emergency use authorization for its red pill, which the company says cuts the risk of death and hospitalization. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Josh Green says this would be for people with mild to moderate symptoms.

“People would take eight pills a day for five days, and it decreases the length of the illness,” said Green, Hawaii’s COVID-19 liaison. “It also decreases the mortality and morbidity by 50%, that means how sick you get in the early studies.”

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Green says this would not only be effective but convenient too.

“The reason it’s helpful is because if you can take it at home, you can avoid having the hospitalization. Like Tamiflu medicine, which you take for flu, it shrinks the length of your illness by a couple days, and so it’s promising and it would be great to have,” Green said.

Merck hopes to follow out the treatment by the end of this year. Meanwhile, Hawaii health officials anticipate a smooth holiday season with coronavirus cases trending down and more treatments becoming available.

“We’re getting better treatments by the week that will be approved by the FDA where it will significantly reduce the burden on hospitals or if there were to be a small spiking COVID cases,” said Dr. Thomas Lee, University of Hawaii assistant epidemiology professor.

Dr. Fauci even gave the green light on Monday for kids to go trick-or-treating this Halloween.

“Particularly, if you’re vaccinated, you can get out there and enjoy it,” said Dr. Fauci.

Although Hawaii now has over 69% fully vaccinated, the oral treatment should not replace vaccination.

“We have a lot of protection, but there will still be cases, and as you heard, people’s immunity does tend to wane a little bit when it’s been six months or more after you got your second shot. That’s why people will be getting boosters, but this kind of treatment, which attacks the virus directly instead of giving you immunity like the vaccine, will help,” Green said.

Find more COVID-19 news: cases, vaccinations on our Coronavirus News page

If the FDA signs off on Merck’s treatment, the company says it will be the first pill to work against COVID.

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