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A photo of capsules of Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics' molnupiravir antiviral COVID pill. Photo: Merck

The European Medicines Agency Friday issued advice for a pill developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to treat COVID-19, allowing medical professionals to prescribe the drug in emergency situations.

Why it matters: It gives European nations another tool to treat potentially severe cases of the disease, though the drug, known as molnupiravir or Lagevrio, has not been approved for marketing in the EU.

  • The European Medicines Agency said the drug can be prescribe to adults with COVID-19 who do not require supplemental oxygen and who are at increased risk of developing severe symptoms.
  • It recommended that the drug be taken within 5 days of the start of symptoms and continued twice a day for 5 days.

The big picture: The United Kingdom's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency earlier this month because the first governmental body to approve molnupiravir.

  • U.S. health regulators are still in the process of reviewing the drug, though the Biden administration has already agreed to buy 3.1 million courses of it, worth around $2.2 billion, in anticipation of approval.

Go deeper: Merck to share antiviral COVID pill formula with developing countries

Go deeper

Updated 20 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: U.S. to mandate vaccines for anyone who crosses borders starting in January — Shots lagged data by months — The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort.
  2. Health: The Thanksgiving bouncers — Axios-Ipsos poll: Thanksgiving roulette — Experts criticize CDC's language on vaccine boosters — America's Thanksgiving gamble.
  3. Politics: Biden administration asks appeals court to reinstate vaccine mandate — Michigan recommends face masks for all residents amid surge.
  4. Education: A COVID strategy backfires at schools — Schools across the U.S. offer vaccine drivesBenefits of in-person school outweigh risks, study finds.
  5. World: EU drug regulator recommends Pfizer COVID vaccine for kids — Italy announces new COVID restrictions for unvaccinated people — European health agency urges expanding booster shot access.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
22 hours ago - Health

Fauci: U.S. "rushing" to get scientific data about new COVID variant

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

U.S. public health officials were set to speak Friday with their South Africa counterparts as they sought scientific details about a new COVID-19 variant already prompting European and Asian countries to enact new travel restrictions.

Driving the news: Anthony Fauci, President Biden's chief medical adviser, told CNN Friday "we're rushing now to get that scientific data to try and make an informed decision" on a possible travel ban.

18 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.

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