Pfizer’s Paxlovid at-home Covid pills approved for use in the UK

·2-min read
Paxlovid pills  (Pfizer/AFP via Getty Images)
Paxlovid pills (Pfizer/AFP via Getty Images)

A new anti-viral treatment for Covid-19 made has been approved for use at home for high-risk adults by UK health regulators.

Paxlovid pills, developed by vaccine-producer Pfizer, were found effective for reducing severe Covid-19 symptoms in at-risk groups by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The five-day course of tablets cut hospitalisation and death by 89 per cent when taken within three to five days, as found in clinical trials.

Treatment has been approved for adults 18 and above, with mild to moderate symptoms and one or more risk factors for serious illnesses. Some factors include old age, obesity, heart disease, diabetes.

Effectiveness of the medication on the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has not yet been confirmed.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The UK has been a world leader at finding and rolling out Covid-19 treatments to patients. This is further proved by the MHRA being one of the first in the world to approve this life-saving antiviral.

“We are also leading the whole of Europe in the number of antivirals we’ve bought per person – with over 2.75 million courses of this antiviral secured for NHS patients by the Antivirals Taskforce.”

Paxlovid capsules are a two-part medication with active ingredients PF-07321332 and ritonavir keeping virus levels low and helping the body overcome infection.

Protease inhibitor ritonavir is the same ingredient used in HIV medication. It turned the fatal disease into a manageable condition.

People testing positive for symptoms are encouraged to check with their GP for eligibility while the treatment is being discouraged as an alternative to vaccinations.

MHRA Chief Executive June Raine said the oral administering of the medicine means it can prevent hospitalisation and treat symptoms before they progress to a “severe stage”.

Raine said: “I hope the announcement today gives reassurance to those particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, for whom this treatment has been approved. For these individuals, this treatment could be life-saving.”

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