Two antiviral pills could be better than one in the fight against Covid-19 in early 2022. While the launch of coronavirus vaccines was a great milestone in the fight against the virus over the past year, however, the new antiviral drugs could be potential game-changers for addressing the pandemic.
According to a Times of India report, the European Medicines Agency has recommended the use of two Covid-19 antiviral pills – Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s Molnupiravir, both are awaiting their formal approval. On Thursday, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Molnupiravir, a day after authorising Pfizer’s Covid pill. Pfizer’s Paxlovid is for anyone aged 12 and above, while Merck’s Molnupiravir can be given only to adults aged 18 and up.
The report also cited that the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge, said the new drugs will significantly increase survival chances for coronavirus patients and the next-generation vaccines will be more effective against new emerging strains as well.
Notably, initial drug trials of both the pills have shown to reduce the chances of hospitalisation or death from the virus in high-risk patients by 89 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.
“I am also encouraged by new antiviral drugs that are likely to come to market in 2022, which will greatly increase the survival chances of patients who end up in hospital with severe Covid-19,” the publication quoted Kluge as saying to TASS news agency.
Meanwhile, Pfizer’s lab tests also show that Paxlovid continues to work against the fast-spreading Omicron variant. The drugmaker’s CEO Albert Bourla estimated that the pills can prevent 1,200 deaths and 6,000 hospitalisations for every 100,000 Covid patients who take the new pills.
The report also mentioned both Pfizer and Merck’s pills should be taken early, within 3-5 days of getting Covid, and may require several doses a day for five days. The new antiviral drugs also come with concerns including affordability and global availability among others. It now remains to be seen if the drugmakers can keep up with the demand as Omicron variant cases surge across the world.