An outside panel of scientific advisers to the Food and Drug Administration narrowly recommended the agency authorize the experimental Covid-19 oral antiviral from Merck MRK -0.74% & Co. and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP. The panel, known as the Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee, voted 13 to 10 in support of the FDA granting use. The recommendation is limited to high-risk people. The panel’s blessing paves the way for the drug, called molnupiravir, to be available in the U.S. before the end of the year. Merck plans to study whether molnupiravir is effective against the worrisome Omicron variant and is working to collect samples of the new strain to do so, Nick Kartsonis, who oversees Merck’s vaccine clinical research, told the panel. To read the full story.