COVID-19: Pfizer’s antiviral pill can cut hospitalisations, deaths by 89 percent

Washington: US drug maker Pfizer on Friday announced that its new antiviral pill against Covid-19 can significantly reduce hospitalisations and deaths.

It is the second antiviral pill, after Merck’s molnupiravir which has shown to halve the risk.

Pfizer’s pill named Paxlovid can reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death by 89 per cent for adults at high risk of developing severe disease when it was given within three days of symptoms appearing, the company said in a statement.

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It said it plans to submit its data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorisation “as soon as possible.”

“Today’s news is a real game-changer in the global efforts to halt the devastation of this pandemic,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer, in the statement.

“If approved or authorised by regulatory authorities, has the potential to save patients’ lives, reduce the severity of Covid-19 infections, and eliminate up to nine out of ten hospitalisations,” he added.

The results are based on a clinical trial that included 1,219 adults who tested positive for Covid-19, had mild or moderate symptoms, and who had at least one underlying medical condition that would put them at risk for a severe case of the disease (like diabetes or a lung condition).

Participants were randomly assigned to either take a course of placebo pills or the active drug. Three people in the active drug group were hospitalised and none died. In the placebo group, 27 people were hospitalised and seven died.

The pill has demonstrated potent antiviral in vitro activity against circulating variants of concern, as well as other known coronaviruses, suggesting its potential as a therapeutic for multiple types of coronavirus infections, the company said.

The antiviral therapy is specifically designed to be administered orally so that it can be prescribed at the first sign of infection or at first awareness of an exposure, potentially helping patients avoid severe illness which can lead to hospitalisation and death.

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