In a news release issued today, Pfizer stated that their antiviral medication is highly successful in protecting patients who contract COVID-19 from becoming seriously ill. When given within three days of the onset of symptoms, the drug, known as Paxlovid, reduced the chance of hospitalization and death by 89 percent for persons at high risk of developing severe disease, according to a clinical trial.
The company stated that it will “as soon as possible” submit its data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization.
This is the second anti-COVID-19 medication that works. The first, produced by Merck, reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by around half. The Merck tablet was approved by the UK’s health agency on Thursday, and the FDA’s advisory group will examine it on November 30th.
Pfizer studied its medicine on 1,219 adults who tested positive for COVID-19, had mild to moderate symptoms, and at least one underlying medical condition that put them at risk for a severe case of the disease (like diabetes or a lung condition). Participants were given either a course of placebo pills or active medicine at random. Three patients in the active drug group were admitted to the hospital, but none of them died. In the placebo group, 27 persons were admitted to the hospital and seven of them died. The findings were released in a press release and have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed publication.
The Pfizer therapy works by preventing the coronavirus from replicating within cells. It consists of 30 pills taken over the course of five days. Merck’s, which works in a similar fashion, involves the administration of 40 pills over the course of five days. Both are less expensive than monoclonal antibodies, which can also help people avoid becoming critically ill. They’re also more convenient to use logistically: pills may be taken at home, whereas antibody treatments require an infusion at a health center.
The difficulty with antiviral medications like the Pfizer tablet is ensuring that people can have them during the brief window when they are most effective. People who don’t acquire a COVID-19 test result or see a doctor within the first few days after being ill are unlikely to reap the same benefits from the medicine.
Medications administered after a person becomes ill aren’t a substitute for immunizations, which can help individuals avoid becoming ill in the first place. Antiviral medicines, on the other hand, are a significant aid in the fight against COVID-19. In October, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNN, “I think getting an oral pill that can inhibit viral replication — that can inhibit this virus — is going to be a real game changer.”