Antiviral suppresses COVID-19 transmission in ferrets

Dec. 7, 2020

Researchers at the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University say that treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection with a new antiviral drug, MK-4482/EIDD-2801 (Molnupiravir), completely suppresses virus transmission within 24 hours.

The researchers infected ferrets with SARS-CoV-2 and initiated treatment with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 when the animals started to shed virus from the nose. In the study, published in Nature Microbiology, researchers co-housed infected ferrets with Molnupiravir-treated animals and untreated ferrets. None of the treated ferrets became infected while all of the ferrets that received placebo became infected.

If ferret-based data translates to humans, COVID-19 patients treated with the drug could become non-infectious within 24 hours after the beginning of treatment. Originally studied against influenza viruses, the oral drug could be a game-changer, potentially inhibiting patients’ progress to severe disease, shortening the infectious phase and quickly slowing outbreaks.

MK-4482/EIDD-2801 is currently being studied in advanced phase II/III clinical trials against SARS-CoV-2 infection. The drug was acquired by Miami-based company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, who later partnered with Merck & Co. to develop the drug further.

Read the study