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Clinical trials in Tahlequah are testing efficacy of pill that could prevent the spread of COVID-19

Posted at 7:35 PM, Sep 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 20:44:36-04

TULSA, Okla.  — People who have been exposed to COVID-19 may soon have an alternative option to protect against the virus. Researchers are studying the efficacy of an oral pill called Molnupiravir.

Researchers in Tahlequah are conducting clinical trials to test and evaluate the potential of an oral pill that could help in preventing COVID-19 among people who have been exposed to the virus.

The pill would be for people who reside in the same household as someone who has COVID-19.

“The game changer here is that this would be a pill, which is much easier to deliver and offer it to the patient,” Dr. Jorge Mera said.

Merck is the company conducting the research. Dr. Mera is an infectious disease specialist leading the trial at the Cherokee Nation Outpatient Center in Tahlequah..

“This is an antiviral medication that’s being studied right now to see if it actually works against Sars COVID 2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19, in the particular study that we’re conducting, we’re trying to see if it works to prevent the infection,” Dr. Mera said.

The clinical trial is called MOVe-AHEAD and will be conducted on approximately 1300 individuals.

Participants must be at least 18 years old and COVID-19 negative. The person in their household who is COVID-19 positive must have shown at least one symptom of the virus within the past five days.

“They have to never have had COVID, they have to be non-vaccinated, they have to be adults, or they could be vaccinated but only within one week of the first dose of the vaccine, and they have to be not suspected of having COVID,” Dr.Mera said.

Mera said today they are enrolling volunteers who meet this criteria.

He said the trial will help them determine if the pill is safe to use and if it helps prevent the spread of the virus.

Today was the first day of the Clinical Trial at the Cherokee Nation Outpatient Center in Tahlequah.

Researchers ask those who are COVID positive if they can reach out to their loved one who has been exposed to participate.

If they agree, participants are randomized to take four pills twice a day for five days and then followed up by researchers for up to 35 days after enrollment.

“If they consent to that, then we call the family members and explain...look, you’ve been exposed to your loved one, do you want to participate in a study that is looking to see if the medication works to prevent that infection,” Dr. Mera said.

The trial is voluntary. If you would like to participate in the study, you can call the Hotline at 918-718-5852 to see if you are a qualified candidate.

Dr. Mera said if the pill proves to be effective, it's likely the research company would then apply to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.

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