Almost a year after Pfizer announced it had a working vaccine to fight COVID-19, the company has now announced that it has an oral treatment for those who become infected with the virus. The new Pfizer COVID-19 pill comes just over a month after Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and pharma giant Merck announced the world’s first pill to fight COVID-19 infections.
Here’s what you need to know about Pfizer’s anti-COVID-19 pill:
- What’s its name? Pfizer has named its COVID-19 pill Paxlovid. It has the alphanumerical designation PF-07321332, according to a Pfizer press release.
- Who should take it? That’s up to doctors, but any person who becomes infected with COVID-19 could potentially benefit. Those who are at high risk of severe illness are obvious candidates for the new drug.
- How effective is it? Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill was found to reduce the chances of hospitalization or death by 89% compared to a placebo drug.
- How does it work? The pill blocks the ability of a SARS-CoV-2 enzyme to replicate inside the body.
- What does the COVID-19 pill mean for vaccines? Nothing has changed when it comes to vaccines. They are still the best form of protection against COVID-19.
- When will Pfizer’s pill be available? That’s the big question. Pfizer’s pill hasn’t been submitted to the Food and Drug Administration yet, but the company told CNBC it would do so “as soon as possible.” It’s possible regulators could give the drug emergency use authorization before the end of the year, but whether that happens remains to be seen.
Announcing the new drug, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, said, “today’s news is a real game changer in the global efforts to halt the devastation of this pandemic. These data suggest that our oral antiviral candidate, if approved or authorized 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 hospitalizations. Given the continued global impact of COVID-19, we have remained laser focused on the science and fulfilling our responsibility to help healthcare systems and institutions around the world while ensuring equitable and broad access to people everywhere.”