Pfizer has started early clinical trials for an oral drug that will hopefully fight against the deadly coronavirus. The company has said that the drug "has demonstrated potent in vitro antiviral activity" when it encounters the virus that causes COVID-19. According to reports, the oral drug is a protease inhibitor, a drug that is commonly used to treat HIV and hepatitis C. It works by blocking an enzyme called protease that the virus needs to replicate.
“Tackling the COVID-19 pandemic requires both prevention via vaccine and targeted treatment for those who contract the virus. Given the way that SARS-CoV-2 is mutating and the continued global impact of COVID-19," Pfizer's Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten said in a statement.
"It appears likely that it will be critical to have access to therapeutic options both now and beyond the pandemic.”
Dolsten believes that this treatment could be prescribed at the first sign of infection. If it is ultimately approved, it would join a shortlist of treatments used to mitigate the coronavirus. Thus far, the Food and Drug Administration has only approved Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir as a therapeutic for the virus. The FDA has also granted emergency authorization for therapeutics from Regeneron and Eli Lilly. Pfizer has previously attempted to work with Bio-N-Tech to develop therapeutics, but their attempts have not been as successful as the development of their vaccine. Over time, medical experts hope there can be a variety of treatments available to those diagnosed with COVID-19.
In the meantime, the FDA continues to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine. Thus far, 458 million doses have been distributed worldwide. In the United States, 127 vaccine doses have been distributed and 44.9 million people have been fully vaccinated.
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