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“... the virus can’t replicate and cause disease.”

Pfizer Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten on how Pfizer's anti-viral pill works - new research shows it cuts severe COVID-19 in certain groups by nearly 90%.

Published on

dec 14, 2021

  • Paxlovid blocks a key enzyme that the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses to replicate (viruses grow by infecting and replicating within our own cells; this triggers an immune response, creating inflammatory symptoms that make us feel sick). This enzyme is not altered (so far) by variants.
  • How It Works: The oral pill is given within a few days of initial symptoms.
  • The company says new research shows it reduced severe disease for high-risk recipients by nearly 90%. It reduced severe disease in those at lower risk by about 70%. No recipients in either study died.
  • About 1 in 4 people in both studies experienced adverse effects - we don't have the details of these effects, which have only been described as "mild" - and roughly the same amount of people in both studies who received either the pill or the placebo needed to withdraw from the trial due to more serious effects (approximately 1-3%).
  • The company is seeking FDA emergency use authorization.
  • Why It Matters: Reducing disease replication (and therefore symptoms) is key to reducing hospitalizations and deaths. Currently there are few therapeutics available to treat COVID-19, particularly options that could be used at home and away from a hospital setting. For example, monoclonal antibodies still require an IV and several hours of treatment. Another antiviral pill from Merck received emergency use authorization but has raised concerns about serious side effects (it introduces a mutation into the virus).
  • Interesting to Note: Preliminary research shows the Pfizer vaccine may reduce severe illness caused by Omicron by about 70% but reduce symptomatic disease by about 30%.


    PRESS RELEASE from Pfizer

    Pfizer Says Its Covid-19 Pill Likely Works Against Omicron

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