News Mash-up: COVID-19 Treatments

Category : Health

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. molecule / ˈmɒl əˌkyul / (n.) – the smallest amount of a substance that has all of its properties or characteristics

    Molecules are so small that you can’t see them without any special tool.

  2. inhibit / ɪnˈhɪb ɪt / (v.) – to stop or slow down a process

    Corruption can inhibit economic growth.

  3. halve / hæv / (v.) – to reduce something to half of its size or number

    The store will halve the price of its most expensive jewelry. From $100 million, it will now cost only $50 million.

  4. contract / kənˈtrækt / (v.) – to get sick with a disease

    David contracted a cold after he visited his sick friend.

  5. oral / ˈɔr əl / (adj.) – taken by mouth

    It’s an oral medicine. You may take it with water.


Read the text below.

Viper venom may help fight coronavirus: study

Brazilian researchers have found that a molecule in the venom of a type of snake inhibited coronavirus reproduction in monkey cells, a possible first step toward a drug to combat the virus causing COVID-19.

A study published in the scientific journal Molecules in August found that the molecule produced by the jararacussu pit viper inhibited the virus’s ability to multiply in monkey cells by 75%.

The molecule is a peptide, or chain of amino acids, that can connect to an enzyme of the coronavirus PLPro without hurting other cells. The enzyme it connects to is vital to the virus’s reproduction.

The jararacussu is one of the largest snakes in Brazil. (Reuters)

Merck pills may prevent COVID-19 deaths

An experimental antiviral pill developed by Merck & Co. could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalized for those most at risk of contracting severe COVID-19, according to data that experts hailed as a potential breakthrough in how the virus is treated.

If it gets authorization, molnupiravir, which is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus, would be the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19.

Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said they plan to seek U.S. emergency use authorization for the pill as soon as possible and to make regulatory applications worldwide. (Reuters)

These articles were provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Brazilian researchers found a molecule in the venom of a jararacussu pit viper that could be a possible first step toward a drug against COVID-19. If a drug made of snake venom gets authorized, would you be willing to take it? Do you think this kind of drug will be well-received in your country? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • If a drug against COVID-19 gets authorized, do you think it’d be safe to go back to how people lived before the pandemic? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said they plan to seek US emergency use authorization (EUA) for molnupiravir as soon as possible. Do you think Merck and Ridgeback should rush seeking EUA so that the drug could be used by the public, or should they conduct further research of it first? Why? Discuss.
  • If it gets authorization, molnupiravir would be the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19. Do you think Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics should keep the drug’s formula and be the only ones to produce it, or should they share it with other companies to increase its production? Why? Discuss.
Category : Health