Pfizer’s updated results for its experimental treatment for COVID-19 showed it cut the risk of hospitalisation or death by 89 per cent if given to high-risk adults within a few days of their first symptoms, the company announced on Tuesday.
Pfizer hopes it can eventually offer the pills under the name Paxlovid for people to take at home before they get sick enough to go to the hospital, CNN reports.
Paxlovid combines a new antiviral drug named Nirmatrelvir and an older one called Ritonavir.
After a month of follow-up, the study found five hospitalisations and no deaths among 697 people, who received the drug within the first three days of symptoms.
Among 682 who received placebo, 44 were hospitalised, including nine who died.
All of the adults in this study were unvaccinated.
If given within the first five days of symptoms, the efficacy was similar: 88 per cent.
These results hold up against a similar announcement from the company last month, when not all the data had come in yet.
The research also showed “an approximate 10-fold decrease in viral load at Day 5, relative to placebo,” the statement said.
“This underscores the treatment candidate’s potential to save the lives of patients around the world, whether they have been vaccinated or not,” Pfizer CEO, Dr. Albert Bourla, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“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,” Pfizer added.
Pfizer announced it has shared this latest data with the US Food and Drug Administration as part of its ongoing application for emergency use authorisation.