A preprint study compiled by researchers from the U.S.-based Francis Crick Institute and Imperial College London explains that the drug-linked mutations of the so-called "virus" are not necessarily more immune-evasive or lethal, but they are occurring.
The fact that mutations are happening at all, rather than the "miracle cure" that Merck claimed would happen, is concerning – especially as the drug gains traction in communist China and elsewhere.
The way Lagevrio works is it creates mutations in the covid genome that supposedly prevent the virus from replicating inside the body, thus reducing the chance of severe illness. By nature of how the drug works, though, the mutations that inevitably result could be problematic.
"There's always been this underlying concern that it could contribute to a problem generating new variants," said Jonathan Li, a virologist at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
"This has largely been hypothetical, but this preprint validates a lot of those concerns." (Related: Merck's molnupiravir drug also causes cancer, research shows.)
As usual, Merck is denying that molnupiravir is problematic in any way. Spokesman Robert Josephson told the media that there is "no evidence to indicate that any antiviral agent has contributed to the emergence of circulating variants."
"Based on available data we do not believe that Lagevrio (molnupiravir) is likely to contribute to the development of new meaningful coronavirus variants," he added in an emailed response to questions about the new study and its findings.
According to Josephson, any new variants or subvariants that emerge after taking molnupiravir must be caused by the "pandemic." He says molnupiravir is a solution, not the problem, to all new variants.
Josephson also pointed to an animal study as "evidence" that, in that particular case, Merck did not observe any problems when feeding molnupiravir to test critters. He also denied that what was observed in the new study had anything to do with the drug.
The researchers involved with the new paper drew their conclusions from "circumstantial associations between viral sequence origin and timeframe of sequence collection in countries where molnupiravir is available," Josephson alleged.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which first approved Lagevrio in late 2021, is refusing to comment on the new research because it came from a third party, and the agency only works with "covid drug makers," according to MSN, not independent researchers. (That's another issue altogether.)
The study looked at about 13 million viral genomes in databases around the world to identify potential drug-linked mutations. Researchers found that drug-linked mutations were proportionally more common in countries where Lagevrio is likely to be used, including in the United States and Australia, as well as in places where it was introduced early.
In Canada, France, and other countries where Lagevrio is unavailable, they further found, there are very few signature mutations present in viral genomes.
"These effects are visible in these databases," said Theo Sanderson, a Crick Institute geneticist who led the new study. "It appears that people are being treated, some of them aren't clearing their infections, and some are passing them on."
"It's a very distressing situation," added Lin. "There's no evidence that any of these mutants is worse in any way – not yet – but it's well agreed that you're playing with fire if you're creating random mutations and hoping nothing bad will come of it."
More news about Merck and its covid drug molnupiravir can be found at DangerousMedicine.com.
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