Pfizer Says COVID-19 Pill Reduces Death, Hospitalization by 89 Percent in Final Studies

Pfizer announced Tuesday that final studies of its COVID-19 antiviral pill were found to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 percent in high-risk patients who have been experiencing symptoms of the disease for three days or less.

The study was conducted from a trial of 2,246 adults, and falls in line with initial research that was first reported in November. The pill, called Paxlovid, is currently being petitioned with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency-use authorization.

"This news provides further corroboration that our oral antiviral candidate, if authorized or approved, could have a meaningful impact on the lives of many, as the data further support the efficacy of Paxlovid in reducing hospitalization and death and show a substantial decrease in viral load," Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer said Tuesday.

"This underscores the treatment candidate's potential to save the lives of patients around the world."

The study also found that Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 88 percent in patients treated within five days of symptoms, an increase from 85 percent that was recorded last month. Additionally, the company said that the pill reduced hospitalizations by 70 percent among unvaccinated people at standard risk of developing coronavirus symptoms. However, that portion of the study is still ongoing.

Pfizer's results also pointed to success against the new Omicron variant, as Paxlovid is seemingly able to target a protein associated with the strain called 3CL, and inhibit replication of the virus.

"Emerging variants of concern, like Omicron, have exacerbated the need for accessible treatment options for those who contract the virus, and we are confident that, if authorized or approved, this potential treatment could be a critical tool to help quell the pandemic," Bourla added on Tuesday.

Pfizer sign, COVID-19 antiviral pill
Pfizer announced Tuesday that final studies of their COVID-19 pill show an 89 percent efficacy of reducing hospitalization and death. Here, a Pfizer sign is seen on July 22, 2020 in New York City. Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

Pfizer's study results have so far been shared with the FDA, but have not yet been reviewed by outside scientists. If approved for use, the drug treatment would consist of three pills taken twice a day for a period of five days, according to Politico.

The successful reports comes as scientists are increasingly working to produce easily available antiviral pills that can help treat symptoms and keep patients out of the hospital after they become infected with COVID-19. Such at-home treatments could ultimately change the course of the pandemic, experts have noted.

"Oral antivirals could be a real game-changer in terms of how we treat and manage COVID in an outpatient setting," Dr. Andrew Bradley, head of the Mayo Clinic's Coronavirus Task Force, previously told Newsweek.