What is molnupiravir?

Co-Author: Jenna Resnik

Molnupiravir is a new medication to treat COVID-19, though it’s not yet approved for use in the US. It is a pill, taken twice a day for 5 days. It works by blocking the virus that causes COVID-19 from replicating (making copies) once it has entered your cells. Molunipravir was studied in a large clinical trial. It was used to treat non-pregnant people with COVID who weren’t hospitalized and had at least 1 risk factor for developing severe COVID. The trial participants had to be treated within 5 days of getting sick with COVID. 

The results of the trial are only available to the public from a press release from the company that makes the medication. The results have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. People who received molnupiravir were less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID. In the 29 days following molnupiravir treatment, 8 people who received the placebo died of COVID, while no one who received molnupiravir in the study died.

Though promising, scientists and doctors will have to look at all the data before determining if molnupiravir is safe and effective at treating COVID-19. Based on trial results, the company that makes molnupiravir has applied for an emergency use authorization from the FDA. It has already been approved for use in the UK.

Last update: October 29, 2021 10:31 am ET

Science review: GSN, JAB