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What we know about Pfizer’s ‘first of its kind’ Covid-19 antiviral pill

A MAN walks past Pfizer's world headquarters in New York. File picture: Andrew Kelly Reuters

A MAN walks past Pfizer's world headquarters in New York. File picture: Andrew Kelly Reuters

Published Nov 8, 2021


PFIZER’S experimental Covid-19 pill was found to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalisation or death by 89%, in high-risk adults who have been exposed to the virus.

The company announced at the weekend that, based on an interim analysis of Phase two and three clinical trials, the pill could be prescribed as an at-home treatment to help reduce illness severity, hospitalisations, and deaths.

The drug, Paxlovid, is taken orally as soon as the first symptoms of Covid-19 appear, to avoid serious forms of the illness or hospitalisation.

“If approved or authorised, Paxlovid, which originated in Pfizer’s laboratories, would be the first oral antiviral of its kind, a specifically designed Sars-CoV-2-3CL protease inhibitor,” said the company in a press release.

Pfizer plans to the submit the data, as part of its ongoing rolling submission, to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as soon as possible

Pfizer chairman and chief executive Albert Bourla said Paxlovid has the potential to save patients’ lives, reduce the severity of Covid-19 infections, and eliminate up to nine out of ten hospitalisations.

“Given the continued global impact of Covid-19, we have remained laser-focused on the science and fulfilling our responsibility, to help health-care systems and institutions around the world, while ensuring equitable and broad access to people everywhere,” he said.

In clinical trials, the oral pill also demonstrated “potent antiviral in vitro activity” against variants of concern. This could suggest that the drug could be effective against multiple types of coronavirus infections.

The Phase two and three study analysed data from 1 219 adults, who were enrolled by September 29, 2021.

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