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Pfizer: Antiviral pill reduces coronavirus death, hospitalization in high-risk patients by 89 percent

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Pfizer announced on Friday that its antiviral COVID-19 pill cut the risk of coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths by 89 percent compared to those who received a placebo, according to an analysis of study data.

In a study examining adults who had contracted COVID-19 and were considered at high risk of becoming severely ill, the pharmaceutical company reported that out of 389 people who received the drug, 3 (0.8 percent) were hospitalized, but did not die.

In this group, the patients had been experiencing symptoms for three days and were given a regimen of three pills, twice per day. 

By comparison, 385 people received the placebo in this group, and 27 hospitalizations were reported with 7 deaths, according to the company.  

Pfizer said study data demonstrated that even when patients were given the antiviral COVID-19 pill, called Paxlovid, within five days of symptoms starting, it was still effective.

In another group, the pharmaceutical company studied those were given the treatment within five days after symptoms started. The study showed out of 607 given the drug, six (1 percent) were hospitalized within 28 days but no deaths were reported. Comparatively, out of 612 people given placebos, 41 people (6.7 percent) ended up in the hospital and 10 people died. 

Pfizer said that the study data would be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as soon as possible, which would be included in its emergency use authorization request for the drug.

The study has not yet been peer reviewed. 

“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,” Pfizer CEO and Chairman Albert Bourla said in a statement.

Merck has also developed its own antiviral COVID-19 pill, named molnupiravir, which has also been shown to be effective at curbing COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The pill, developed along with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, has been shown to reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations by 50 percent, Merck reported last month. In mid-October, the pharmaceutical company said it had submitted an emergency use authorization request to the FDA.

If both pills are authorized for emergency use by the FDA, it would be considered another tool to help mitigate COVID-19. 

Though President Biden’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci has previously warned that the Merck drug should not be considered an alternative to the COVID-19 vaccine, it could help alleviate the possibility of escalating COVID-19 cases.

Tags Anthony Fauci Antiviral drug COVID-19 Joe Biden Paxlovid Pfizer

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