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June 10, 2021

Coronavirus company news summary – Merck agrees US supply deal for antiviral molnupiravir – Scottish study highlights rarity of blood clot events linked to AZ jab

By Chris Lo

Merck has entered into a supply agreement with the US government for molnupiravir (MK-4482). Molnupiravir is currently being assessed in a Phase III clinical trial, the MOVe-OUT study, for treating non-hospitalised Covid-19 patients with at least one risk factor linked to poor disease outcomes. Merck has collaborated with biotechnology company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to develop the oral antiviral candidate. Merck is expected to receive $1.2bn to supply 1.7 million courses of the therapy if granted emergency use authorisation or approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.

A Scottish study focused on examining the side effects of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine found only a link with generally harmless bleeding among almost 5.4 million people who took the jab. The study confirmed no association between the vaccine and brain clots in the study population, highlighting the rarity of serious blood disorders. The University of Edinburgh researchers found only one additional case of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) per 100,000 people following the first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while no link was established between the shot and more dangerous cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST).

A preclinical study of Selva Therapeutics’ antiviral drug SLV213 has demonstrated efficacy against three major Covid-19 variants of concern. While earlier studies established the drug’s strong antiviral effects against the original strain of Covid-19, the follow-up study revealed it is equally potent against some of the existing variants of concern, including the UK variant (B.1.1.7), the Brazil variant (P.1), and the South Africa variant (B.1.351).

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