Efficacy of COVID antiviral drug questioned in study

The COVID antiviral treatment most widely prescribed in Australia is no more effective than a placebo, according to a new study. And the nation’s response to the pandemic “failed our most vulnerable people”, says another report.

Molnupiravir, sold as Lagevrio in Australia, has been found to have no overall impact on hospitalisations and deaths – but may still be effective at lessening COVID symptoms.

The drug was added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in March and has since been prescribed more than 237,000 times, according to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

In the world’s largest randomised study of COVID antiviral drugs (known as the PANORAMIC trial), researchers at Oxford University split around 25,000 participants aged 50 and over into two groups, one that had been prescribed molnupiravir and the other a placebo.

They found 103 people in the molnupiravir group (out of 12,516) were hospitalised or died compared to 96 (out of 12,484) in the placebo group. This represented 0.8 per cent of each group, showing no effective difference between the two.

Read: Being stressed before getting COVID increases chances of long COVID

“In this preliminary analysis, we found that molnupiravir did not reduce already low hospitalisations/deaths among higher risk, vaccinated adults with COVID-19 in the community, but resulted in faster time to recovery, and reduced viral detection and load,” the study’s authors wrote.

The results are concerning, and the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce (NCCET) says it is reviewing its advice on molnupiravir, but that people already prescribed it should continue treatment.

“The taskforce is aware of the recently published PANORAMIC trial data on the oral antiviral molnupiravir (Lagevrio),” the NCCET says in a statement.

“The results are currently under review by the Taskforce Evidence Team and the Disease-Modifying Treatment and Chemoprophylaxis Panel (DMTC), and an update to existing recommendations will be published in the next version of the guideline.”

Read: Almost one-fifth of Australia’s COVID vaccines binned

Meanwhile, another report has lashed the federal government’s response to the pandemic, labelling the reaction “overreach”.

The report, Fault Lines: An independent review into Australia’s response to COVID-19, was compiled by former public servant Professor Peter Shergold, former University of Wollongong chancellor Jillian Broadbent, University of Queensland chancellor Peter Varghese and 2021 Young Australian of the Year Isobel Marshall.

It found that key groups had been excluded from financial support and schools should have remained open. It also concluded that at least some of the border closures and lockdowns were avoidable.

Read: COVID is far from over, health expert warns

The researchers found low income families, women, children, aged care residents, people with disabilities, temporary migrants, multicultural communities and others already experiencing disadvantage experienced the worst of the pandemic.

“For many of us, the story of COVID-19 will be one of inconvenience,” the report states.

“It will be a story of cutting our own hair, struggling to exercise, missed holidays, too much takeaway and endless Zoom meetings.

“For others, COVID-19 will be a story of trauma, isolation and terrifying uncertainty. It will be a story of being locked in overcrowded housing, job loss and missing out on government supports.

“It’s imperative that we heed these lessons and take action to ensure we’re better prepared for whatever the next health crisis is – because we know there will be another one.”

Have you been prescribed molnupiravir? Were you happy with the government’s response to the pandemic? Let us know in the comments section below.

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyerhttps://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/bradlockyer/
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -