Pfizer’s New COVID-19 Antiviral Gives Hope
Scientists developed COVID-19 vaccines at record speed. Nevertheless, developing an oral antiviral turned out to be more difficult. At the moment, various antivirals are being developed. Merck Sharp & Dohme and Ridgeback Biotherapeuticshave developed molnupiravir, authorized for use in coronavirus patients in the UK.
The findings from a phase 3 clinical trial showed a lower death risk or 50% decrease in hospital treatment compared to placebo. Apart from Merck, Roche/Atea and Pfizer are with their drugs in phase 2 and 3 trials. Pfizer reported results, which show that the drug PAXLOVID is safe in people at concentrations that are efficient against SARS-CoV-2 in laboratory tests. Moreover, Pfizer developed its new oral antiviral PF-07321332 that stops protease inhibitors from viral replication, thus slowing down or even preventing an infection.
Researchers believe that by giving PF-07321332 in combination with ritonavir—a Pfizer protease inhibitor, it could slow the PF-07321332 metabolism or breakdown. This indicates that the drug will continue to be active in the body for a longer period. A study found that the drug showed reduced viral load and antiviral activity in epithelial cells from the lungs in mice.
The company is conducting trials to establish the effectiveness of PAXLOVID in COVID-19 patients prone to standard and severe illness and whether it prevents the disease from being transmitted in close contact with individuals who suffer from COVID-19. The next phase of trials will focus on the drug’s efficiency against COVID-19, considering that the symptoms usually occur after the peak of the viral replication.
The developments of Pfizer and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck Sharpe & Dohneare are exciting prospects, regardless of the possible challenges.
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