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Merck’s Money Moves

Merck may have lost its bid to be the vaccine golden child, but the Covid pill might give it a fresh new chance to fill its coffers.

There’s a new drug in the wings to treat Covid, an at-home treatment called molnupiravir. Merck Pharmaceutical’s new “Covid pill” will supposedly be accessible medicine to treat coronavirus infections—not to replace the vaccine, of course, but to be another tool in your tool belt.

The experimental new drug showed promising results in late-stage clinical trials, in which 775 patients who had tested positive for Covid-19, were unvaccinated, and had at least one comorbidity, received the drug twice a day for five days. While 14 percent of the patients who received a placebo instead of the drug were hospitalized or died, only 7 percent of the patients who received the drug had been hospitalized by the end of the 29th day of the study.

While we await further information and studies on the effectiveness of the new pill, it’s hard to ignore the eager superlatives which surround the drug: the only at-home treatment option on the market. The first accessible drug for the elderly and at-risk, since monoclonal antibody infusions require a doctor visit. A medical miracle has arrived on the scene, at last, and only $49.95 per bottle, or something.

Except the only superlative molnupiravir has actually earned is the title of the only politically correct at home Covid-19 treatment. Safety and effectiveness aside—because the results of one study are limited, though certainly promising, for molnupiravir as well as other at-home Covid treatments—this is the first home remedy that hasn’t been mocked, canceled, and disappeared from the internet. Because, well, you know. It’s the repurposed old standbys—and not the experimental new drug—that we should regard with special suspicion. Zinc and vitamin D shortages notwithstanding.

It might be funny, if it weren’t so painful, the way the media have already lauded Merck’s efforts. They’ve been sure to insist you still need a vaccine, but also, Merck is a ray of sunshine in the dark world of this full-blown pandemic that we are still absolutely in the middle of. Another option for symptom treatment is great, sure, but really? Where’s the skepticism levied at ivermectin, for example? Molnupiravir also hasn’t been FDA approved for the treatment of Covid-19, so why is it somehow more promising and not a quack cure? I’m the conspiracy theorist, and have probably downed bleach and horse de-wormer, if I suggest that maybe, perhaps, the motivation for silencing the cheap, known solutions in exchange for a fresh round of pharmaceutical product has more to do with that old crone who is the root of all evil than with saving lives.

The pharmaceutical company, which lost its bid to produce a vaccine option earlier in the pandemic, is already seeking its fast-tracked FDA approval through the Emergency Use Authorization that permitted the use of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines. The company expects to produce 10 million treatment courses of the drug by the end of 2021, according to Politico, and has already licensed the drug to five Indian manufacturers to produce doses for India and more than 100 low- and middle-income countries.

And the global homogenous medical state glides on…

about the author

Carmel Richardson is the 2021-2022 editorial fellow at The American Conservative. She received her B.A. from Hillsdale College in political philosophy with a minor in journalism. She firmly believes that the backroads are better than the interstate, and though she currently resides in Northern Virginia, her home state will always be Tennessee.

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