Game changer: Pfizer’s COVID-19 oral drug could be ready by 2021 end

By Sayujya S, Desk Reporter
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Albert Bourla, the CEO of American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer

A pill that can be consumed orally at home to combat COVID-19 when illness is first detected could be available to the public by the end of 2021, the CEO of American drugmaker Pfizer, Albert Bourla said.

He said the company has antiviral treatments in development and is optimistic about the prospects for their progress. He explained that the company is testing two antivirals, one that is injected intravenously and another that is administered orally.

“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 by the end of the year,” said Mr. Bourla.

Several advantages

He noted Pfizer is focusing on the oral option because it “provides several advantages,” with the major benefit being avoiding a trip to the hospital or another healthcare provider to get the treatment.

They work by preventing the replication of proteins necessary for the production of infectious viral particles, which should also make them effective against variants of the virus that have already emerged, as well as future mutations.

Early-stage trials of the oral drug began in March, and Mr. Bourla says that there is particular attention being paid to that treatment as, unlike injectables, a patient would not need to be in a hospital environment.

“You could get it at home, and that could be a game-changer,” he said, adding that there should be more news in the coming months. At present, the only antiviral currently approved for use against the coronavirus is remdesivir, which is manufactured by Gilead Sciences. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the drug full approval in October after it was granted emergency use authorization in May last year.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bourla predicted that Pfizer will produce at least 2.5 billion doses of their vaccine this year, which equates to 3 billion doses on an annualized basis.

Related: One dose of COVID-19 vaccine cuts infection rate by 65%; Study shows