Pfizer announce oral pill for COVID-19 that ‘reduces death rate by 89%’

Pfizer announced on Friday that its experimental oral pill for COVID-19, PAXLOVID, helps reduce the rate of hospitalisation and death by 89 percent.

The development is part of worldwide efforts to find a pill that can be taken at home to ease COVID-19 symptoms, speed up recovery and reduce the burden on hospitals and doctors.

Pfizer explained in a statement on Friday that interim analysis of the trial involving 775 participants showed an “89 percent reduction in risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization or death from any cause compared to placebo in patients treated within three days of symptom onset”.

It said fewer than one percent of patients taking the drug needed to be hospitalised and no death was recorded in 28 days compared to seven percent hospitalised and seven deaths among participants who took the placebo.

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Study participants were unvaccinated, with mild-to-moderate COVID-19, and were considered high risk for hospitalisation owing to health problems like obesity, diabetes or heart disease. Treatment began within three to five days of initial symptoms, and lasted for five days.

“We were hoping that we had something extraordinary, but it’s rare that you see great drugs come through with almost 90% efficacy and 100% protection for death,” Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer chief scientific officer, said.

Pfizer said it will ask the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and international regulators to authorise its pill as soon as possible.

“At the recommendation of an independent Data Monitoring Committee and in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Pfizer will cease further enrollment into the study due to the overwhelming efficacy demonstrated in these results and plans to submit the data as part of its ongoing rolling submission to the U.S. FDA for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as soon as possible,” it said.

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Agency report

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