Pfizer study finds its COVID pill reduces hospitalisation by nearly 90%

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By Euronews  with AP
Pfizer found its COVID pill was effective at preventing hospitalisation
Pfizer found its COVID pill was effective at preventing hospitalisation   -  Copyright  Zoltan Balogh/MTVA/via AP

Pfizer’s antiviral COVID-19 pill was found to reduce hospitalisation and death by nearly 90 per cent, in a study carried out by the company.

Final data shows its Paxlovid oral tablets reduce the risk of hospitalisation or death by 89% within three days of symptoms starting, and 88% within five days, compared to a placebo.

These results surpass the success of rival drugmaker Merck’s oral antiviral for the disease, which was found to only reduce serious illness or death in its clinical trial of high-risk patients by around 30 per cent.

The company has shared the results with the US Food and Drug Administration and hopes the agency will approve its use in the coming days or weeks.

Pfizer’s Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said the study “underscores the treatment candidate’s potential to save the lives of patients around the world”.

“Emerging variants of concern, like Omicron, have exacerbated the need for accessible treatment options for those who contract the virus, and we are confident that, if authorised or approved, this potential treatment could be a critical tool to help quell the pandemic,” he added.

Pfizer also said on Tuesday its pill appears effective against the Omicron variant.

The updates come as COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalisation are all rising again around Europe and the wider world.

If the FDA grants authorisation, the pills would be the first COVID-19 treatments that Americans could pick up at a pharmacy and take at home.

Across both of Pfizer’s studies, adults taking the company's drug had a 10-fold decrease in virus levels compared with those on placebo.

The US government has agreed to purchase enough of Pfizer’s drug to treat 10 million people and enough of Merck’s to treat 3 million, pending FDA authorisation.

Merck’s pill molnupiravir was first approved for use in the UK last month and was the first pill shown to be an effective treatment for COVID.