The Biden administration announced an agreement with Pfizer Inc. last week that will provide 10 million courses of the company’s COVID-19 oral antiviral Paxlovid, pending Emergency Use Authorization or approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“This promising treatment could help accelerate our path out of this pandemic by offering another life-saving tool for people who get sick with COVID-19,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “With President Biden’s leadership, we are using all resources at our disposal to prepare for any future pandemic needs. Getting vaccinated remains the most important action anyone can take to help protect themselves and others and end this pandemic, but for people who do get sick in the future and are at risk of severe outcomes, having pills they can take to keep them out of the hospital could be a lifesaver.”
Paxlovid is meant to treat non-hospitalized, symptomatic adults diagnosed with COVID-19. Specifically, those at greater risk of progressing to severe illness, hospitalization, or death. While studies are ongoing, recent results of a Phase 2/3 clinical trial showed that a treatment dose every 12 hours for five days could reduce hospitalization rates and COVID-19 deaths by nearly 90 percent among patients treated within three days of symptom onset. Similar results emerged for those treated within five days.
The drug works by blocking an enzyme the SARS-CoV-2 virus — which causes COVID-19 — needs to replicate in human cells. It has also proven capable of blocking other coronaviruses.
The U.S. government paid $5.295 billion for this contract. In return, it will receive doses beginning this year and throughout 2022 if the drug earns its green light from the FDA.