Pfizer’s anti-Covid pill reduces risk of hospitalisation by almost 90%, study shows

Pfizer’s anti-Covid pill reduces risk of hospitalisation by almost 90%, study shows
Credit: Belga

The Covid-19 pill developed by Pfizer reduces the risk of hospitalisation or death from a coronavirus infection by 89% if taken within three days of the first symptoms, new study results show.

The pill, named Paxlovid, can be taken at home as soon as someone starts showing symptoms of a Covid-19 infection and prevents people from getting severely ill due to the virus.

“This underscores the treatment candidate’s potential to save the lives of patients around the world,” said Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s Chairman and CEO, in a press release.

About a month ago, Pfizer already announced that the drug was about 89% effective in preventing hospital admissions or deaths, compared to a placebo. These new results confirm the company’s earlier findings.

At the time, researchers were basing their findings on interim results from about 1,200 people; the new data released by the company today includes 1,000 more test subjects. No one in the group receiving the Pfizer treatment died, compared to 12 deaths among placebo recipients.

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“Emerging variants of concern, like Omicron, have exacerbated the need for accessible treatment options for those who contract the virus, and we are confident that, if authorised or approved, this potential treatment could be a critical tool to help quell the pandemic,” he added.

The results suggest that the pill may be useful for Covid-19 patients who are at high risk of becoming severely ill. However, whether the pill is useful for healthier and/or vaccinated people still needs to be investigated further.

Pfizer submitted the data to the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an ongoing rolling submission for Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA).

Paxlovid is currently still under investigation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) before it can be marketed in Europe. For the time being, nothing has been decided about a possible Belgian purchase, Wendy Lee, spokesperson for the Federal Public Health Service told De Morgen.

A similar anti-Covid pill, named Molnupiravir, developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics is currently also under review by the FDA, and has already been approved for use in the United Kingdom. After it also received provisional European approval, Belgium decided to purchase 11,520 treatments of this drug.

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