VOLUNTEERS are being sought by the Asian Hospital and Medical Center (AHMC) and Quirino Memorial Medical Center (QMMC), clinical trial sites for molnupiravir, an oral antiviral pill being evaluated for prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

MSD and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics launched the global trial to test the efficacy and safety of the investigational drug in preventing infection among close contacts. Those above 18 years old who live with a symptomatic COVID-19 patient qualify for the study, which aims to recruit 1,332 volunteers globally, 30 of whom will come from the Philippines.

“Post-exposure prophylaxis [preventative treatment] will make a large difference in how we handle the pandemic eventually,” said Dr. Benjamin Co, the clinical investigator at AHMC. “Imagine a situation wherein you get exposed to somebody who has COVID-19, and you’re able to take a medicine for it and you’re not going to develop COVID.”

Participants should have no symptoms or history of infection, and be unvaccinated or have not received the first dose of the vaccine within the last seven days.

The infected patient in the household can be of any age, but must test positive within five days before the trial. Volunteers will take molnupiravir or placebo orally every 12 hours for five days and live with the positive case in their household for a month.

“The criteria’s a little bit strict in the sense we want to find out if it’s because of the drug you’re not developing COVID,” explained Dr. Co.

Dr. Joel Santiaguel, clinical investigator at QMMC, shared that the latest data on the use of molnupiravir in mild to moderate COVID-19 patients showed 30% probability of reducing progression of the disease.

This November, the US Food and Drug Administration narrowly endorsed the pill to treat COVID-19. In the Philippines, it has not been granted emergency use authorization.

To volunteer, contact AHMC at 0968-5583091 or 0927-0076602; or QMMC at 0917-8413314. — Brontë H. Lacsamana