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Pfizer: new pill reduces risk of hospitalization, death from COVID-19 by 89%

November 5th, 2021
REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Drugmaker Pfizer announced today its experimental pill designed to fight the coronavirus, reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 89% for high-risk patients taking part in a trial of the drug.

Pfizer hopes to eventually offer the pill, given in combination with an older antiviral drug called ritonavir, to people to take at home before they get sick enough to go to the hospital.

An interim analysis – done before the trial was scheduled to end – showed the 89% reduction in the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 if patients got it soon enough, the company said.

The Pfizer data has not yet been peer reviewed or published and the company says it will share more specifics in a peer reviewed paper and in its submission to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Pfizer has been testing the drug in adults with COVID-19 who are considered at high risk of progressing to severe illness. The pill, called Paxlovid and its experimental name, PF-07321332, is what’s known as a protease inhibitor – it’s designed to stop the virus from multiplying. Giving it along with ritonavir slows its breakdown in the body, the company said.

The announcement by Pfizer comes a day after the UK authorised Merck’s new oral antiviral molnupiravir, a pill which has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by about 50%.

Merck is seeking FDA emergency use authorization for the drug.

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