Is a covid-19 pill on the way? Covid-19 vaccine maker Pfizer said its antiviral pill cuts hospitalization rates and deaths by nearly 90 percent in high-risk adults.
Pfizer is not the only pharmaceutical company making progress with an easy-to-use covid-19 medication. After showing strong initial results, Merck’s covid-19 pill is already under review at the FDA. On Nov. 4, the U.K. became the first country to approve the Merck pill.
Pfizer said it plans to ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and international regulators to authorize its pill as soon as possible. Independent experts recommended halting the company’s study based on the high success rates of its results, AP reported. The FDA could decide within weeks on Pfizer’s application.
Most covid-19 treatments used in the U.S. require an IV or injection. Researchers have been in a race to find a pill that treats covid-19 at home to reduce symptoms, help recovery and keep people out hospitals.
Pfizer released preliminary results of its study of 775 adults. Patients who received the company’s drug and another antiviral shortly after exhibiting covid-19 symptoms had an 89-percent reduction in their combined rate of hospitalization or death after a month, compared to patients taking a placebo. Less than 1 percent of patients taking the drug needed to be hospitalized, and no one died. In the comparison group, 7 percent were hospitalized and there were seven deaths, AP reported.
The pill could be a game-changer for Black America. Black people have been affected disproportionately by covid-19 for cases and deaths.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported more than 34.5 million covid cases as of Oct. 5, 2021. Of those cases, race or ethnicity was known for 64 percent (22.4 million). The CDC also reported more than 570,000 deaths. Of those deaths, race or ethnicity was known for 84 percent of the people (480,000 people.)
Black people represent 12 percent of the population but account for 14 percent of covid deaths, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“We were hoping that we had something extraordinary, but it’s rare that you see great drugs come through with almost 90 percent efficacy and 100 percent protection for death,” said Dr. Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer.
Study participants were unvaccinated with mild-to-moderate covid-19 and were considered high risk for hospitalization due to health problems such as obesity, diabetes, or heart disease. Treatment began within three to five days of initial symptoms and lasted for five days. Patients who received the drug earlier showed slightly better results, underscoring the need for speedy testing and treatment.
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