Merck, the pharmaceutical company which has come up with a drug for COVID-19, has called upon US regulators to authorise its pill to introduce a new and easy-to-use weapon against the pandemic. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is going to decide on the pill’s authorisation. If authorised, this will be the first pill to treat COVID-19. All other FDA-backed treatments against the disease require an IV or injection.

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Merck’s antiviral pill that people will be able to take at home to reduce their symptoms and ensure quick recovery is slated to prove ground-breaking. First and foremost, it will ease the crushing caseload on US hospitals and help curb outbreaks in poorer countries with weakened healthcare systems.

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The FDA is going to study company data on the effectiveness and safety of the drug before the agency authorises the same. Merck, along with its partner Ridgebank Biotherapeutic, has said that they specifically want FDA to grant emergency-use authorisation for adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at risk of severe disease.

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According to the company’s own documentation, Merck’s pill has been successful in cutting hospitalisations and deaths by half among patients with early symptoms of COVID-19. The results were so strong that independent medical experts monitoring the trial recommended stopping it early, an Associated Press report stated.

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With regard to side-effects, Merck has not publicly detailed the types of problems reported, but a study of side effects will be a key part of FDA’s review and FDA’s approval may make handling the pandemic’s impact on health infrastructure way more manageable.

Until then, however, the United States is continuing to push vaccinations as the best way to protect people against COVID-19. Those efforts are yet to yield the desired results as nearly 68 million Americans remain unwilling to get themselves vaccinated. Approval for Merck’s drug may help bypass vaccine hesitancy among certain groups of people which in turn can help control future waves of infection.