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‘Game-changer’: Pfizer developing pill to treat Covid-19, may hit market by end of 2021

Pfizer launched an early trial in March of the oral antiviral which tackles Sars-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, by limiting the availability of the enzyme protease which the virus needs to replicate. 

“If all goes well, and we implement the same speed that we are, and if regulators do the same, and they are, I hope that (it will be available) by the end of the year,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said. 

By limiting the coronavirus’ capacity to self-replicate, the drug would theoretically be able to stave off the worst effects of Covid-19, the so-called ‘cytokine storm’ which overwhelms the human body’s immune system and lands people in the intensive care unit. 

With a severely weakened viral enemy, thanks to the Pfizer medication, the human immune system should be able to fight off the infection on its own. 

According to Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer and president of worldwide research, development, and medical, the new drug could be prescribed “at the first sign of infection, without requiring that patients are hospitalized or in critical care.”

The only available antiviral drug authorized for treating Covid-19 at present is Remdesivir, but this must be administered via injection by a healthcare professional. Were Pfizer’s new oral medication to gain regulatory approval, it could be administered at a patient’s local pharmacy, thus freeing up medical resources and reducing hospital visits in the process. 

“You could get it at home, and that could be a game-changer,” Bourla added. 

The oral treatment may also be effective against emerging mutations and variants, though more testing is needed to definitively prove this.

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