Pfizer Says Antiviral COVID Pill Is Effective Against The Omicron Variant

By Bill Galluccio

January 18, 2022

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Photo: Bloomberg

Pfizer announced that its antiviral COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid is effective against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The company said that three lab studies showed that nirmatrelvir, which is the drug's main ingredient, "has the potential to maintain plasma concentrations many-fold times higher than the amount required to prevent Omicron from replicating in cells."

"We specifically designed PAXLOVID to retain its activity across coronaviruses, as well as current variants of concern with predominantly spike protein mutations. Following the clinical findings – showing PAXLOVID reduced risk of hospitalization or death by nearly 90% compared to placebo for high-risk patients when treated within five days of symptom onset – we are encouraged by these initial laboratory findings," said Mikael Dolsten, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, and President, Worldwide Research, Development and Medical of Pfizer. "These data suggest that our oral COVID-19 therapy can be an important and effective tool in our continued battle against this devastating virus and current variants of concern, including the highly transmissible Omicron."

Paxlovid has been granted an emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration to treat high-risk patients who COVID-19. The treatment involves taking three pills two times a day for five days and must be started within five days of a positive test or the onset of symptoms.

The agency has also authorized an antiviral treatment developed by Merck.

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