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A new study claims that Merck & Co.’s new COVID-19 treatment could be creating new coronavirus mutations.
The study shows that Lagevrio, the new Merck designed pill, has been linked to new mutations identified in viral samples.
That’s given rise to concerns from researchers that those mutations could lead to “more contagious or health-threatening variations.”
At this point, the study hasn’t yet shown that these Merck-linked mutations are more likely to evade existing immunity. But the fact that those variants exist is creating concern among scientists that the drug shouldn’t be used.
The underlying methodology behind the drug is the likely cause of the mutations. Lagevrio is designed to prevent the virus from replicating as it spreads, in theory to lessen the chances of severe illness.
But because of how it uses mutations in the genome to prevent replications, it could be leading to new variants.
Bloomberg quoted Jonathan Li, a virologist at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, expressing his concerns about Merck’s drug.
“There’s always been this underlying concern that it could contribute to a problem generating new variants,” Li said. “This has largely been hypothetical, but this preprint validates a lot of those concerns.”
Merck Pill Highlights Problems With Treating COVID
The race between pharmaceutical companies to treat COVID has led to increasing experimentation.
This was even more evident recently when an undercover video showed a Pfizer executive discussing potential “directed evolution” research.
READ: PFIZER RESPONDS TO UNDERCOVER VIDEO ON MUTATING COVID FOR VACCINES
For their part, Merck denied that their pill could lead to new variants.
“There is no evidence to indicate that any antiviral agent has contributed to the emergence of circulating variants,” Merck spokesman Robert Josephson told Bloomberg. “Based on available data we do not believe that Lagevrio (molnupiravir) is likely to contribute to the development of new meaningful coronavirus variants.”
But Michael Lin, another eminent drug researcher from Stanford University, expressed unease with the potential ramifications.
“It’s a very distressing situation,” said Lin. “There’s no evidence that any of these mutants is worse in any way — not yet — but it’s well agreed that you’re playing with fire if you’re creating random mutations and hoping nothing bad will come of it.”
Attempting to treat COVID has become a massive, multi-billion dollar cash cow for pharmaceutical companies.
The arrival of mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna were supposed to “end the pandemic” years ago.
Yet there’s been repeated surges of infections, hospitalizations and deaths since. Even in highly vaccinated countries or states.
So instead, the search to actually “end the pandemic” is ongoing. And in order to get a slice of that unbelievably lucrative pie, Merck might be playing with fire.
One CommentLeave a Reply
Years ago, I heard a doctor say that there is no money in curing a disease, but plenty of money in treating one. That is more true now than ever before