Capsules of the investigational antiviral pill Molnupiravir Photograph:( AFP )
The phase 3 trial of the drug is set to begin involving 1,850 people with results expected later this year.
Amid large scale vaccination in the country, the US government announced it will procure 1.7 million doses of antiviral treatment molnupiravir for coronavirus treatment from Merck.
The procurement will be made pending emergency use authorization (EUA) or approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Molnupiravir treatment is being evaluated in the ongoing Phase 3 trial for its potential to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death, the US government release said.
The treatment is designed to induce viral genome copying errors to prevent the virus from replicating in the human body. The company said it was pleased to collaborate with the US government while aiming to produce 10 million courses by the end of this year.
It is a drug to be taken over a five-day period. The phase 3 trial of the drug is set to begin involving 1,850 people with results expected later this year.
The drug is usually given to patients early before the virus turns severe.
According to the government, molnupiravir has proved effective against other viruses namely influenza, Ebola, Venezuelan Equine and Encephalitis virus in lab studies although it hasn't been approved by the FDA.
The health department said it is part of the Biden administration’s approach to develop new COVID-19 treatments.