Pfizer has recently announced that its COVID-19 antiviral pill which is branded as Paxlovid is able reduce the risks of hospitalisation or death by 89% according to the preliminary analysis trials. Due to the high efficacy and after consultation with an independent monitoring committee as well as the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the company has since halted the trial.
In development for almost two years, Paxlovid is administered together with an existing antiviral medication called ritonavir. During the trial, it was found that 0.8% of those given Pfizer’s drug within three days of getting symptoms were hospitalised and none had died by 28 days after treatment.
Pfizer plans to submit its results to the U.S FDA for emergency use approval before 25 November which is the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. It didn’t give any details of side effects related to Paxlovid but has said adverse events happened in about 20% of both treatment and placebo patients alongside the fact that nausea, as well as diarrhoea, are among the well-known possible side effects of ritonavir.
If Pfizer’s results are to be believed, then Paxlovid may have the upper hand against another experimental medication called molnupiravir which was developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP after recent trial results showed that it reduces the risks of death or severe symptoms by approximately 50%.
Malaysia has previously signed a deal to purchase 150,000 courses of Merck’s antiviral pill, which will be given for free to patients with severe symptoms. While the UK has given the green light on the treatment, it has not been approved for use here yet. However, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that the contract signed with Merck won’t be triggered until local regulators give the nod for the pill.