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Pfizer Covid-19 Pill: Race Against Time for the Antiviral Cure

EU Pfizer vaccine
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ US Secretary of Defense. CC BY 2.0

The American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, after its great triumph in producing the world’s first coronavirus vaccine, is now working toward developing a single pill that would work to cure Covid-19. The pill is currently in Phase One clinical trials which were announced last Tuesday in the US and Belgium and they could be available to the public by the end of the year.

A cure for Covid-19

The antiviral pill that Pfizer is developing is codenamed PF 07321332. The way it is expected to work is by targeting the “spine” of the Covid-19 virus, and therefore block it from replicating in the throats and lungs of those suffering from the virus.

This type of drug, called a “protease inhibitor,” has been used in the past to help manage the HIV epidemic. After this type of medication was first released in 1996, the annual number of deaths related to HIV in the US fell from 50,000 to 18,000 within two years.

Similar groundbreaking results are possible for Covid-19 survival rates if Pfizer’s miracle pill is deemed safe and effective after the ongoing clinical trials.

Curing Covid-19 — at home

Pfizer engineers have worked to develop this potential coronavirus cure — from scratch –over the period of the pandemic.

If the trials go as planned, the pill could be on the market by the end of this year. It would be used in a similar way to conventional treatments of a wide range of illnesses, where an individual would simply take a pill at home after the initial onset of symptoms.

Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD., Chief Scientific Officer and President of the Worldwide Research sector of Pfizer said:

“We have designed PF-07321332 as a potential oral therapy that could be prescribed at the first sign of infection, without requiring that patients are hospitalized or in critical care. At the same time, Pfizer’s intravenous antiviral candidate is a potential novel treatment option for hospitalized patients. Together, the two have the potential to create an end to end treatment paradigm that complements vaccination in cases where disease still occurs.”

It is hoped that the drug will work well enough to avoid hospital stays or coronavirus patients having to be placed in critical care.

Clinical trials currently underway

Pfizer is currently testing the potential covid-19 cure on humans for the first time. Up to sixty people are now taking part in the groundbreaking study at two anonymous buildings in the US and Belgium.

Beginning last July, 210 scientists began working with Pfizer in order to develop this potentially life-saving drug. It has already been tested in vitro, through using the drug on infected human tissue cultures in a lab.

Following animal testing, the trials which are currently ongoing will work to test the safety and tolerance of the drug in humans. This process is expected to take some time, with the complete trial expected to have a duration of 145 days.

Phase Two of the trials will also be testing on how Pfizer’s potential Covid-19 cure is tolerated by humans, but will be do so through the use of multiple doses. Once the human trials progress on to Phase Three, different forms of the drug will be tested, alongside the effects of eating while taking the drug.

Time is of the essence

Covid-19 cure Pfizer Covid-19 Pill
The Greek-born CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla. Credit: Pfizer.

Time is clearly of the essence when it comes to developing a cure for Covid-19, and scientists are under the gun to produce a cure as quickly as humanly possible. Just as it did when it created the first coronavirus vaccine, Pfizer is developing the pill while the coronavirus still poses a threat to public health all over the world.

The Greek-born CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, is at the helm of the company. Following their swift success at developing a coronavirus vaccine, Pfizer is hoping to add another feather to their cap by being the first to approve a cure for covid-19 in pill form.

However, Pfizer is not the only company developing an anti-viral against coronavirus – Roche and AstraZeneca are both developing potential cures in pill form. “Molnupiravir,” by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, is furthest along, and is to be part of a large study this Fall.

If the trials are anything to go on, Pfizer is optimistic about its potential miracle cure for the coronavirus. If their scientists’ many weeks and months of work pay off in a pill that will cure the scourge of Covid-19, many people will be able to recover from the coronavirus without needing a hospital stay by the end of this year.

A tweet from Pfizer, below, outlines how their pill will work to fight covid-19:

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