Covid breakthrough as Pfizer’s new pill slashes hospitalisations by 89%

Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines approved for booster scheme

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According to preliminary data published by Pfizer, the new pill appears to outperform Merck & Co Inc’s pill Molnupiravir. The UK Government had announced yesterday it had approved the first Covid treatment in pill form. The Molnupiravir pill will be rolled out across the UK in a bid to fight the pandemic alongside available coronavirus vaccines.

However, Pfizer now appears to have a stake in the game and will submit its initial results to the US Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use application.

The company said it will submit the data “as soon as possible”.

Pfizer’s pill is officially known as PF-07321332 and is said to slash the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 percent in high-risk adults exposed to the virus.

The pill belongs to a class of treatments called protease inhibitors.

The drugs inhibit an enzyme used by the SARS-CoV-2 virus to enter the body.

Protease inhibitors are also used to treat other viral pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis C.

Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s Chief Scientific Officer, said: “All of us at Pfizer are incredibly proud of our scientists, who designed and developed this molecule, working with the utmost urgency to help lessen the impact of this devastating disease on patients and their communities.

“We’re thankful to all of the patients, investigators, and sites around the world who participated in this clinical trial, all with the common goal of bringing forth a breakthrough oral therapy to help combat COVID-19.”

According to Pfizer, the preliminary data is based on a study of 1,219 adults who have at least one underlying health condition.

The adults were also tested for a laboratory-confirmed infection within a five day period.

The study participants were also handed a low dose of the drug ritonavir, which is commonly used alongside HIV treatments.

Of the 607 participants who were given the Pfizer pill in combination with ritonavir, the company said only six were hospitalised and none died.

The drugs were given within five days of Covid symptoms onset.

In stark contrast, of the 612 participants who received a placebo treatment, 41 were hospitalised and 10 died.

Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO, said: “These data suggest that our oral antiviral candidate, if approved 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.”

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