Pfizer announced that its COVID-19 experimental tablet proved to be effective against the omicron variant.
In addition, the company stated that the full results of its 2,250-person study show the pill’s promising early results against the virus: When given shortly after the beginning of COVID-19 symptoms, the drug decline combined hospitalizations and deaths by about 89 percent in high-risk adults. As per the prediction, the laboratory result shows that the pill keeps working against the omicron variant.
The updates come as COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations are all on the rise, and the United States is on track to have 800,000 pandemic deaths. The latest spill, fueled by the delta variant, spread as a result of colder weather and more indoor gatherings, even as health officials prepare for the impact of the emerging omicron mutant.
The Food and Drug Administration is expected to make a decision soon on whether to approve Pfizer’s pill as well as a competing pill from Merck, which was submitted to regulators several weeks ago. If approved, the pills would be the first COVID-19 treatments available to Americans at a pharmacy and taken at home.
Pfizer is also testing its tablet in lower-risk adults, including a vaccinated sample, but the results for that group were mixed on Tuesday. According to preliminary findings, Pfizer’s drug did not achieve its primary study goal of sustained relief from COVID-19 for four days during or after treatment, as reported by patients.
However, the drug did achieve a secondary goal by reducing hospitalizations by approximately 70% among that group, which included otherwise healthy unvaccinated adults and vaccinated adults with one or more health issues. Less than 1% of patients who take the drug were hospitalized, compared to 2.4 percent of patients who received a dummy pill.
An independent board of medical experts reviewed the data and advised Pfizer to continue the study until the full results were available before proceeding with policymakers.
Adults taking Pfizer’s drug had a 10-fold decrease in virus levels compared to those on placebo in both studies.
The expectation of new COVID-19-fighting pills cannot come soon enough for communities in the Northeast and Midwest, where many hospitals are once again full of incoming virus cases.
Because they do not target the coronavirus’ spike protein, which contains the majority of the new variant’s mutations, both the Merck and Pfizer pills are expected to perform well against omicron.
The US government is ready to purchase enough Pfizer’s drug to treat 10 million people and enough Merck’s drug to treat 3 million people, subject to FDA approval.