Pfizer and Merck Are Bringing Americans Closer to the COVID-19 Pill

There is a new hope on the horizon, and that newfound optimism is coming in the form of a COVID-19 pill. The world-changing antiviral coronavirus pill that has been created by the drug company Pfizer has been proven to cut the risk of death or hospitalization by 89%, according to CNN.

In Pfizer’s Tuesday news release they revealed their updated results for the experimental treatment. Pfizer’s news release explained that if high-risk adults took the pill within a few days of their COVID-19 symptoms then death or hospitalization would be minimized significantly. By 89% to be exact. 

Last month Pfizer presented their initial findings in a news release when they were in the interim analysis during the second phase of clinical trials. The drug company’s November results for Paxlovid, their antidote candidate, mirrors the latest results of the study—reinforcing the validity of the new pill.

According to CNN, “After a month of follow-up, the study found five hospitalizations and no deaths among 697 people who received the drug within the first three days of symptoms. Among 682 who received placebo, 44 were hospitalized, including 9 who died. All of the adults in this study were unvaccinated.”

These new findings are exciting news for everyone, and might be the turning point for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As noted by Reuters, “It’s a stunning outcome,” Pfizer Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten said in an interview.”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,” Dolsten said.

Pfizer’s progress towards developing a successful pill is being rooted for by many, especially since it appears to be effective against the omicron variant, according to Time. While Pfizer submitted authorization for emergency use to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for high-risk individuals last month, the FDA has yet to approve their submission, according to Reuters. 

Albeit Pfizer may be the most promising COVID-19 pill, they do have a competitor. Just before Pfizer submitted their emergency authorization to the FDA, drug company Merck & Co. submitted authorization for their antiviral pill Molnupiravir a few weeks prior. Similar to Pfizer’s Paxlovid, Molnupiravir minimizes the severe symptoms of COVID-19 that lead to hospitalization or death, but to a lesser degree of Paxlovid.

Merck’s antiviral pill—which was produced collaboratively with biotechnology company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics—only reduced hospitalization and death by 30%, according to Merck’s November news release, compared to Paxlovid’s 89%.

Which pill will be chosen by the FDA to be utilized is still being determined, however either are proving to be an effective option.

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