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Pfizer Says New Covid Pill Stand Up Against Omicron Variant

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Pfizer Says New Covid Pill Stand Up Against Omicron Variant

Pfizer announced Tuesday that clinical trials conducted with its Covid pill, a new antiviral drug designed to withstand mutations experienced by Omicron, showed that it drastically reduced hospitalizations and deaths among at-risk people by almost 90%.

A real-world study published in South Africa found that two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine were 70% effective in stopping severe illness from the new variant, finding researchers called encouraging, though it represents a drop compared to earlier strains.

More than 2,200 volunteers provided data for the new pill, which has yet to be approved anywhere in the world. They backed up findings reported last month in an interim analysis.

Based on the reports from Pfizer, Paxlovid appeared to have been able to combat the variants of Omicron in lab tests.

In a statement, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said, “This news provides further confirmation that our oral antiviral candidate could have a meaningful impact on the lives of many.”

Researchers found that the pill reduced hospitalizations by 89% in high-risk adults with Covid-19 when taken within three days and by 88% when taken within five days of onset of symptoms, according to the company.

In the placebo group, there were 12 deaths, whereas none occurred in the drug group.

Between the treatment and placebo groups, side effects occurred at comparable rates (23% and 24%, respectively), and were mostly mild.

According to Pfizer, a trial that was conducted among people at standard risk for developing severe Covid also showed encouraging results, but this study is still underway.

Paxlovid and Molnupiravirhelp covid pill

The drug Paxlovid combines two drugs — nirmatrelvir, an experimental treatment, and ritonavir, an antiviral currently used against HIV. Over the course of five days, 30 pills are taken.

“Protease inhibitor” Nirmatrelvir stops the Coronavirus from replicating by blocking an enzyme needed for replication. A drug called ritonavir is administered to slow down the breakdown of nirmatrelvir within the body, increasing its effectiveness.

Scientists hypothesized Paxlovid might be more variant-proof than other treatments, such as synthetic antibody infusions and antibodies caused by most types of Coronavirus vaccine because it does not target fast-mutating spike proteins.

Molnupiravir, another Covid pill manufactured by Merck, has already been approved in Britain and is awaiting approval in the United States.

Molnupiravir, however, only led to a 30% reduction in hospitalizations and deaths in a study, and its safety was questioned. The company warned against using molnupiravir during pregnancy after researching its effect on fetuses in animal studies.

Read: Pfizer Says its Pill Paxlovid is 89% Effective Against Covid-19

This news comes as the heavily-mutated Omicron variant is spreading rapidly around the world, causing alarm about soaring cases and death rates.

However, even if the early findings that the variant is milder in most people are confirmed, its higher transmissibility and ability to override prior immunity may negate this advantage, since it will infect more people.

Several high-income countries have intensified their campaigns to restore vaccine efficacy by giving people booster shots.

South African researchers found that two doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine provided high protection against serious illness.

According to Ryan Noach, the head of Discovery, South Africa’s leading private health insurer, a double dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine reduced hospitalization risk by 70%.

According to the companies, two doses of the vaccine provided 93% protection against earlier variants.

Researchers conducted the study using the results of 78,000 PCR tests taken in South Africa between November 15 and December 7 and were assisted by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC).

The study also found that two doses were 33% effective against infection – a result that matches early findings from the UK Health Security Agency, which experts say underscores the need for a third dose.

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