BMJ. 2023 Mar 7;380:e072705. doi: 10.1136/bmj-2022-072705.
OBJECTIVE: To emulate a randomized target trial to estimate the association between the antiviral drug molnupiravir and hospital admission or death in adults with SARS-CoV-2 infection in the community during the omicron predominant era who were at high risk of progression to severe covid-19.
DESIGN: Emulation of a randomized target trial using electronic health records.
SETTING: US Department of Veterans Affairs.
PARTICIPANTS: 85 998 adults with SARS-CoV-2 infection between 5 January and 30 September 2022 and at least one risk factor for progression to severe covid-19: 7818 participants were eligible for and treated with molnupiravir and 78 180 received no treatment.
MAIN OUTCOMES MEASURE: The primary outcome was a composite of hospital admission or death at 30 days. The clone method with inverse probability of censoring weighting was used to adjust for informative censoring and balance baseline characteristics between the groups. The cumulative incidence function was used to estimate the relative risk and the absolute risk reduction at 30 days.
RESULTS: Molnupiravir was associated with a reduction in hospital admissions or death at 30 days (relative risk 0.72 (95% confidence interval 0.64 to 0.79)) compared with no treatment; the event rates for hospital admission or death at 30 days were 2.7% (95% confidence interval 2.5% to 3.0%) for molnupiravir and 3.8% (3.7% to 3.9%) for no treatment; the absolute risk reduction was 1.1% (95% confidence interval 0.8% to 1.4%). Molnupiravir appeared to be effective in those who had not been vaccinated against covid-19 (relative risk 0.83 (0.70 to 0.97) and absolute risk reduction 0.9% (0.2% to 1.9%)), had received one or two vaccine doses (0.69 (0.56 to 0.83) and 1.3% (0.7% to 1.9%)), and had received a booster dose (0.71 (0.58 to 0.83) and 1.0% (0.5% to 1.4%)); in those infected during the era when the omicron subvariant BA.1 or BA.2 was predominant (0.72 (0.62 to 0.83) and 1.2% (0.7% to 1.6%)) and when BA.5 was predominant (0.75 (0.66 to 0.86) and 0.9% (0.5% to 1.3%)); and in those with no history of SARS-CoV-2 infection (0.72 (0.64 to 0.81) and 1.1% (0.8% to 1.4%)) and with a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection (0.75 (0.58 to 0.97) and 1.1% (0.1% to 1.8%)).
CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this emulation of a randomized target trial suggest that molnupiravir might have reduced hospital admission or death at 30 days in adults with SARS-CoV-2 infection in the community during the recent omicron predominant era who were at high risk of progression to severe covid-19 and eligible for treatment with molnupiravir.