Pfizer’s brand-new anti-Covid pill called “Paxlovid” reduces hospitalization and death risk by 89%, the company states as it readies to place the results of its studies before the FDA by the end of November.
Taking the pills developed by Pfizer over the course of just five days can almost eliminate the risk of being hospitalized or succumbing to the coronavirus by 89% as long as the course of treatment is embarked upon within three days of when symptoms start, the Pharma giant stated on Friday morning in its announcement.
Dr. Albert Bourla, the Thessaloniki-born CEO of Pfizer, interviewed by CNBC this morning called the anti-Covid pill another “game changer” in the fight against Covid-19.
Pfizer’s pill is “fantastic demonstration of the power of science”
He continued, “This is a fantastic demonstration of the power of science — and in fact it’s coming exactly a year to the day after we announced the results of the previous breakthrough of the vaccine, which has 95% efficacy. That was November 9th; this is November 5th.
“I think this medicine will change the way things are happening right now and save millions and millions of lives.”
Asked how quickly this medication could be brought before the FDA, Bourla said that he plans to submit the Pfizer pill “before the Thanksgiving holiday” and then it will be up to the FDA to evaluate the data. “We’ll do it very fast,” he promised with a smile.
Pfizer has now spent more than one billion dollars in the effort to create its anti-Covid pill; Bourla says that the firm has a capacity to produce 500 million pills as of 2022 — at two pills per day for five days, that comes to 50 million individual courses, or treatments, for the coronavirus.
The high efficacy of the product was such that Bourla admitted that “It comes to even us as a surprise; it exceeds even our most visionary expectations. We are jumping in to see what more we can do in the manufacture and supply” of the pill, he added.
Asked by interviewers if the presence of the pill — which could even be authorized before the end of the year if the FDA panel works quickly to do so, would alter the landscape of the vaccine mandates that will be taking effect on January 4, 2022, Bourla stated that it’s not him who decides the mandates, it was public health authorities who did so.
People “should still get the vaccine,” Bourla cautions
However, he noted that the fact that anti-Covid pills do exist now is not a reason not to get the vaccine. “In fact, we should get the vaccine, he declared. While some will still get Covid regardless, he noted, the good news is that “now we have a treatment that reduces hospitalizations and deaths. Instead of ten percent of people going to hospitals, we have only one who will be going.
“This is basically what the results are telling us. And likely very few will die, if any, if they take the medicine. And this is what’s so important — it’s for those who already have the disease.”
The US corporation Merck has already asked for FDA authorization of its own anti-Covid pill and it received the green light from authorities in Great Britain on Thursday to begin distributing it there as the virus continues to rage throughout the world.
The Pfizer study involved more than 1,200 patients who were already suffering from COVID-19 who had an elevated risk of developing serious illness; the recipients of the pill were much less likely to become hospitalized than those who received placebos.
The company stated that none of their subjects who received the real Pfizer anti-cold pills succumbed to the disease; sadly, there were ten individuals taking part in the study who did pass away from Covid, according to its press release.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla stated as part of the announcement that his company’s pill could “eliminate up to nine out of ten hospitalizations.”
Although epidemiological experts state that all these findings are preliminary and have not yet been able to be confirmed in a peer-reviewed medical journal they still are another weapon in the fight against the coronavirus as much of the world still sees high transmission rates.
And, as in the case of the Merck drug, which like the Pfizer medication, can be administered orally, instead of intravenously or by injection, making it much more easily given and transported across the world.
Oral anti-Covid pills “critically important”
Dr. Carlos Del Rio, the executive associate dean and a global health expert at the Emory School of Medicine, told interviewers from ABC “Having an oral therapy is critically important.”
He went on to note that Pfizer’s pills “would be a good drug for patient with COVID and high risk of progression, vaccinated or not.”
Dr. Simone Wildes, a board-certified infectious disease physician at South Shore Health, also told interviewers on Friday “If we can get patients to start treatment early before they progress to severe illness and unfortunately death, everyone wins in the fight against COVID.”
The FDA will decide upon the authorization of Merck’s own Molnupiravir anti-Covid pill on November 30. For its part the firm says that Molnupiravir reduces hospitalization and death risk by 50%.
Although this clearly implies that the Pfizer product is superior, experts say that there is more to the issue since the studies were designed a bit differently, measuring different “primary endpoints.”
Dr. Todd Ellerin, the director of infectious diseases at South Shore Health, who is also an ABC News Medical Contributor, notes “We need to be cautious comparing studies.”
The CEO of Merck has stated that his company will be able to distribute 10 million full treatments by the end of 2021.
For its part, Pfizer officials say that this most recent trial is only one of three that is is now holding — and the results of the other two will also be ready by the end of 2021.
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