Pfizer confirms its new pill therapy is highly effective

The Pfizer laboratory, already at the origin of one of the most widely used Covid-19 vaccines in the world, said Tuesday, December 14 that this new antiviral was showing very encouraging results against Covid-19. According to the latest clinical trials, it reduces the risk of hospitalization and death in those at risk by approximately 89%, if taken within the first few days after symptoms appear.

These results are based on all of the trial participants, more than 2,200 people, and confirm what was announced in early November from preliminary results. No deaths were recorded among those who received the treatment. The participants were unvaccinated and were at high risk of developing a severe case of Covid-19, due to their advanced age or health problems, such as asthma or obesity.

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Hope against the Omicron variant

Pfizer also announced that its antiviral treatment, which will be marketed as Paxlovid, is expected to remain effective against the Omicron variant. To make sure, Pfizer tested its drug against an artificial version of a key protein that Omicron uses to reproduce. “This underlines the potential of this candidate[-médicament] to save the lives of patients around the world ”Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. “Variants of concern like Omicron have exacerbated the need for accessible solutions for those who contract the virus”, he added.

Paxlovid does not target the coronavirus spike protein, which contains most of the mutations of the new Omicron variant. It acts more on the ability of the virus to replicate, thus slowing down the disease. Pfizer has shown in two studies that people on Paxlovid had their virus count divided by ten compared to those on placebo.

Easy administration

Antivirals are a key addition to vaccines to protect against Covid-19, especially because they are very easy to administer – they can be taken at home with a full glass of water.

Until now, only the competing laboratory Merck offered an antiviral having been tested in the final phase. But his treatment only reduced hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk adults by 30%, he said last month.

Le Monde with AP and AFP