Coronavirus: Pfizer says COVID-19 pill up to 89% effective against hospitalization

Pfizer said its COVID-19 pill is up to 89% effective at preventing hospitalizations or deaths among high-risk coronavirus patients, according to final results from its clinical trial.

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In a news release Tuesday, the company said the nearly 2,250-person trial found that the oral antiviral pill, called Paxlovid, was 89% effective against hospitalizations or death when administered within three days of symptom onset. For those who received the treatment within five days, the pill still reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 88%, the company said.

Meanwhile, interim results from Pfizer’s trial of “standard-risk” patients found that Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization by 70%, the release said. In that trial, however, the drug failed to meet the goal of providing relief from symptoms for four consecutive days during or after the treatment, according to The Associated Press.

In the trials, both high-risk and standard-risk patients who took the drug experienced a 10-fold decrease in viral load, Pfizer said.

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Additionally, separate lab tests showed that Paxlovid also was effective against a man-made version of a key protein found in the omicron variant, the AP reported. The results show that the pill “will retain robust antiviral activity” against omicron and other variants of concern, Pfizer said.

”This underscores the treatment candidate’s potential to save the lives of patients around the world,” Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “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 authorized or approved, this potential treatment could be a critical tool to help quell the pandemic.”

The pill, which has not yet been authorized in the U.S., is administered along with a low dose of the HIV drug ritonavir, Pfizer said.

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The news came about a month after Pfizer asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize the pill for emergency use. The agency is expected to rule soon on whether to approve the pill, as well as a similar drug made by Merck, according to the AP.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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