Therapeutically administered ribonucleoside analogue MK-4482/EIDD-2801 blocks SARS-CoV-2 transmission in ferrets

Nat Microbiol. 2021 Jan;6(1):11-18. doi: 10.1038/s41564-020-00835-2. Epub 2020 Dec 3.


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is having a catastrophic impact on human health1. Widespread community transmission has triggered stringent distancing measures with severe socio-economic consequences. Gaining control of the pandemic will depend on the interruption of transmission chains until vaccine-induced or naturally acquired protective herd immunity arises. However, approved antiviral treatments such as remdesivir and reconvalescent serum cannot be delivered orally2,3, making them poorly suitable for transmission control. We previously reported the development of an orally efficacious ribonucleoside analogue inhibitor of influenza viruses, MK-4482/EIDD-2801 (refs. 4,5), that was repurposed for use against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and is currently in phase II/III clinical trials (NCT04405570 and NCT04405739). Here, we explored the efficacy of therapeutically administered MK-4482/EIDD-2801 to mitigate SARS-CoV-2 infection and block transmission in the ferret model, given that ferrets and related members of the weasel genus transmit the virus efficiently with minimal clinical signs6-9, which resembles the spread in the human young-adult population. We demonstrate high SARS-CoV-2 burden in nasal tissues and secretions, which coincided with efficient transmission through direct contact. Therapeutic treatment of infected animals with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 twice a day significantly reduced the SARS-CoV-2 load in the upper respiratory tract and completely suppressed spread to untreated contact animals. This study identified oral MK-4482/EIDD-2801 as a promising antiviral countermeasure to break SARS-CoV-2 community transmission chains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Monophosphate / analogs & derivatives
  • Adenosine Monophosphate / pharmacology
  • Alanine / analogs & derivatives
  • Alanine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • COVID-19 / immunology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 / transmission*
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Cytidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cytidine / pharmacology
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Ferrets
  • Hydroxylamines / pharmacology*
  • Random Allocation
  • SARS-CoV-2 / drug effects*
  • Vero Cells


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Hydroxylamines
  • remdesivir
  • Adenosine Monophosphate
  • Cytidine
  • Alanine
  • molnupiravir

Associated data