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Pfizer announced on Tuesday, Dec. 14, that its antiviral Covid-19 pill has shown almost 90 per cent efficacy in preventing hospitalisation and death in high-risk patients.
This is consistent with its interim analysis earlier last month, which reported a "significant reduction" in risk of death or hospitalisation when compared to placebo, of around 89 per cent.
"A stunning outcome"
The final results come from an analysis of 2,246 people, whereas the interim analysis in November had analysed about 1,000 fewer people.
Nobody in the trial who received the oral Pfizer treatment died, compared with 12 deaths among placebo recipients.
It was also shown to reduce the risk of hospitalisation or death by 89 per cent within three days of Covid-19 symptoms' onset, and by 88 per cent within five days.
The treatment comprised of three orally-administered pills, taken twice daily for five days.
According to Reuters, Pfizer Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten shared that the clinical trial data is a "stunning outcome".
He added: "We're talking about a staggering number of lives saved and hospitalisations prevented. And of course, if you deploy this quickly after infection, we are likely to reduce transmission dramatically."
In its latest press release, Pfizer also released early data from a second study, which said that the treatment could reduce hospitalisations by around 70 per cent in a trial including unvaccinated standard-risk individuals and higher-risk vaccinated people.
More data on this second study is expected later this month.
Also retains effectiveness against Omicron variant
Dolsten also cited recent lab testing which showed that the drug remains effective against the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
The Pfizer treatment is part of a class of dugs called protease inhibitors, and work by blocking the activity of the SARS-CoV-2-3CL protease, an important enzyme needed for the virus to replicate itself.
According to Reuters, Dolsten shared that the drug's activity against the protease of the Omicron variant is as "good as basically any SARS-COV-2 variant of concern."
Plans to make 80 million more in 2022
Pfizer had submitted data from the clinical trials to the U.S.'s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorisation as of last month, Nov. 2021.
If authorised, the treatment will be sold as Paxlovid. If approved, it will be the first oral antiviral treatments for Covid-19 in the U.S.
According to The Guardian, Dolsten shared that Pfizer can have 180,000 courses of treatment ready for shipment this year.
The company also has plans to make at least 80 million more courses available worldwide in 2022.
Singapore already has agreement for Molnupiravir
In October 2021, American pharmaceutical company MSD had announced a supply and purchase agreement with Singapore for Molnupiravir – another antiviral drug that can be taken orally by adults with mild to moderate Covid-19.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) had said then that the drug will only be made available for use in Singapore after the company submits the data to the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and obtains authorisation for use.
MOH added that it "closely tracks" the progress of Covid-19 therapeutics candidates under development globally, and the addition of Molnupiravir to Singapore's portfolio of Covid-19 therapeutics ensures that the country has a range of treatment options for different patient groups.
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