Molnupiravir - oral antivirala drug that is prescribed for the treatment of COVID-19. It is based on an experimental antiviral drug that was previously developed to treat influenza. Its principle of action is based on preventing the multiplication of the RNA virus, or its replication. To do this, the drug makes changes in the viral genome. As a result, it becomes clogged with mutations so much that it cannot reproduce itself. Clinical trials have shown that taking the drug early at an early stage reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by 50%. It would seem that a decrease in mortality, albeit by only 50%, is already an excellent achievement in the fight against coronavirus. However, not all experts share the optimism about this drug. William Hazeltin, a virologist who previously worked at Harvard University, known for his work on HIV and the human genome project, believes that the drug's ability to cause mutations could lead to disruptions in a patient's own genetic material. As a result, cancer or other defects may develop.
Side effect of molnupiravir - what is the danger
According to some virologists, the likelihoodthe occurrence of mutations in the patient's genetic material is not the only potential danger of molnupiravir. The drug can stimulate the emergence of new viral strains, even more dangerous than Delta. By the way, not so long ago I said that dangerous variants of the virus can even appear on their own during the replication process.
“You are introducing into circulation a medicine that ispotent mutagen, while we are deeply concerned about the emergence of new variants of viruses. I can't imagine what could be done even more dangerous, ”says William Hazeltin.
The virologist notes that patients often do notare undergoing a full course of antibiotics and other medications they are prescribed. The drugs are usually stopped when they feel that the condition has improved. If you stop taking molnupiravir, the mutated, but not completely eradicated viruses can begin to spread to other people.
“If I were trying to create a new, more dangerous virus, I would feed infected people a subclinical dose of lightnupiravir,” adds William Hazeltin in his blog.
Infectious disease specialist William Hazeltin's concern is notgroundless. Research published in the Journal of Virology confirms that coronaviruses can survive with mutations caused by molnupiravir. Mark Denison and his team of virologists at Vanderbilt University exposed coronaviruses to sublethal doses of a drug called EIDD-1931.
As a result, they managed to find out that inIn the populations of two coronaviruses, the murine hepatitis virus and the virus that causes respiratory syndrome, 30 cycles of this drug treatment caused up to 162 different mutations that did not kill them. True, most of the mutations damaged the virus, slowing down its development.
Ravindra Gupta, microbiologist from CambridgeUniversity, warns that mutated viruses may have a better chance of surviving and spreading from people who take lightupiravir and have a weakened immune system. These are the people who are most likely to receive molnupiravir, as vaccines are less effective for immunocompromised patients.
Is it worth giving up Molnupiravir
As the management of the manufacturing company notesthe drug, trials of molnupiravir showed no evidence that people taking the drug are generating viruses with dangerous new mutations. According to Hazud, patients who have completed the 5-day course do not have infectious viruses, not to mention dangerous mutated variants. Mutations occur at random, not in specific regions of the RNA that make the virus more survivable or more dangerous.
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Many virologists claim that mutationscaused by molnupiravir, lead to the appearance of a virus that is harmless to the body and is unable to be transmitted, like its original version. However, additional research, according to many experts, will not be superfluous.
“I don’t think we can give upa life-saving drug because of the risks that may or may not happen, ”says Aris Katsurakis, an expert on viral evolution at the University of Oxford.
Thus, the threat from the drug is still onlyhypothetical. However, in the world it was nevertheless taken with caution. For example, in the United States, molnupyrovir is allowed to be prescribed to patients only in emergency situations. Finally, let me remind you that scientists are currently working on other types of drugs for coronavirus. I recently said that for this, scientists are even researching the venom of scorpions.