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Not as Much

Merck announced Friday a lower efficacy for its antiviral pill to treat COVID-19, the New York Times reports.

In its final analysis of clinical trial data, the company found that its pill, called molnupiravir, reduced the risk of hospitalization and death among high-risk COVID-19 patients by 30 percent. This, this Times notes, is a drop from the previously reported 50 percent efficacy.

Merck previously announced that it would be seeking emergency use authorization for the treatment, and the University of Minnesota's David Boulware tells the Times that, despite these latest figures, the US Food and Drug Administration is likely to grant that authorization. The FDA is to meet this week to discuss the drug, it adds. Regulators in the UK have already authorized the treatment for mild or moderate COVID-19 among people with increased risk of developing severe disease.

But the Times says molnupiravir may be overshadowed by another antiviral drug from Pfizer, Paxlovid, which that company says decreases the risk of hospitalization and death by 89 percent.