Merck announces new COVID-19 treatment

What we all agree on: Early Friday morning, biopharmaceutical company Merck announced that the drug molnupiravir “reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by approximately 50%” for COVID-19 patients in a Phase 3 trial.

The treatment involves taking a pill twice a day for five days. The company’s contract with the US government set the price of a treatment course at $700, or $70 per pill.


What else is the left focusing on?

  • With the rise of the Delta variant, this treatment can help mitigate the risk posed by the high number of unvaccinated people.
  • Vaccines are effective in preventing severe COVID-19 infection.

  The narrative: Overall, this is good news and will mean fewer deaths from COVID-19. People who experience severe symptoms now have an additional treatment option. But we should still be encouraging people to get vaccinated so there is less spread, and so people don’t get sick in the first place.    


What else is the right focusing on?

  • This new treatment is a good alternative for people who don’t want to get vaccinated.
  • There is one study about molnupiravir, but there are many studies about the effectiveness of ivermectin.
  • Ivermectin is only about $1.75 per pill — much less expensive.

  The narrative: Overall, it’s good that people who are uncomfortable with getting the vaccine will have another treatment option. But it’s suspicious that the FDA has prioritized costly vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 over existing, cheaper options. The FDA should stop prioritizing the bottom line of pharmaceutical companies over people’s health. With treatments like this available, employers have no justification in mandating vaccines.

What do you think? Do you agree with one side, or do you fall somewhere in between? Give us feedback on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook, or by emailing

Anna Tyger, Shaun Cammack, and Sofia Sedergren-Booker October 1, 2021