The use of molnupiravir, MSD’s antiviral against Covid-19 marketed as Lagevriocould increase the risk of generate new variants of SARS-CoV-2, as suggested by a new observational study published in the latest issue of the journal Nature. This oral antiviral was one of the first to become available during the pandemic and was widely adopted by many countries.
The drug works by inducing mutations in the virus genome during replication. Many of these random alterations damage and kill the virus, making treatment with the drug reduces viral load in the organism.
However, there are fears that some patients treated with the drug may not completely clear the infection and transmit mutated viruses by the mechanism of action of the antiviral.
In their article, researchers from the Francis Crick Institute, Imperial College London, the United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the universities of Cambridge, Liverpool and Cape Town describe an association between the use of the antiviral and a specific pattern of mutations.
As reported by the Francis Crick Institute, scientists used global sequencing databases to map mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus over time. They analyzed a family tree of 15 million SARS-CoV-2 sequences to be able to examine what mutations had occurred at each point in the evolutionary history of the virus.