The government has ordered 250,000 doses of a new antiviral drug, Paxlovid, which is said to reduce hospitalisation and death by around 89 percent. The drug will initially be made available to vulnerable patients, and will be sent to them to take at home when they contract Covid-19 or have been in contact with some one who has.
The Pfizer drug, which has the chemical formula C23H32F3N5O4, was trialled on 1,219 adults, and interim results from the study found that in participants who sustained treatments within three days of Covid-19 symptoms beginning, the risk of covid-related hospitalisation or death from any cause was 89% lower in the Paxlovid group than in the placebo group.
In addition, the study also found that there were no deaths of those who received the Pfizer treatment, while 12 people died amongst those in the placebo group.
Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, said that the results of the study was a “stunning outcome”.
“We’re talking about a staggering number of lives saved and hospitalizations prevented. And of course, if you deploy this quickly after infection, we are likely to reduce transmission dramatically,” he added.
Founding director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy & Research at Boston University, Nahid Bhadelia, labelled the drug as “incredibly important”.
“With an oral antiviral, patients have more time and greater access to a treatment that will keep them out of the hospital,” Bhadelia said. “But the promise of oral antivirals will only be recognized if they’re available at your local pharmacy, and you can afford it, and you can get the test that tells you that you’re positive for Covid, so you can actually take advantage of this drug. So, the promise is there, but the rest of the pieces need to come together.”
In addition, the treatment’s effectiveness remained at 89% against the spreading Omicron variant in final analysis according to Pfizer.
The U.S. drugmaker also unveiled early data from a second study focusing on adults with standard risk and revealed that approximately that the treatment reduced the chance of hospitalization by 70%.
The UK government has ordered 250,000 courses of Paxlovid to boost their efforts against the virus.
After viewing the results, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This could be another significant weapon in our armoury to fight the virus alongside our vaccines and other treatments, including molnupiravir, which the UK was the first country in the world to approve.”
This is not the only study of an oral drug against covid that has seen a successful result, with Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics revealing in October that their drug, molnupiravir, lowered risk of hospitalisation and death by 50%.