AMSTERDAM (AP) — The European Medicines Agency says it has received a request from Merck to authorize its coronavirus antiviral, the first pill shown to treat COVID-19. In a statement Tuesday, the EU drug regulator said it had started evaluating molnupiravir, made by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, and that a decision could be made within weeks on whether it might be cleared. An antiviral pill that reduces symptoms and speeds recovery could prove groundbreaking, easing caseloads on hospitals and helping to curb explosive outbreaks in conjunction with vaccination campaigns. Europe is now at the epicenter of the pandemic and the World Health Organization has warned that without urgent measures, Europe could see 700,000 more COVID-19 deaths by the spring. 

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