Wire Service
3 minute read
15 Dec 2021
4:02 am

Pfizer says study confirms positive results for anti-Covid pill


Lab data shows that the pill appears will be also effective in treating people infected with the Omicron variant, according to Pfizer's statement. 

Picture: iStock

Pfizer said Tuesday that clinical trials confirmed its anti-Covid pill reduced hospitalisations and deaths among at-risk people by almost 90 percent when it was taken in the first few days after symptoms appear.

The results are based on trials of more than 2,200 people and back up findings announced last month from preliminary trials. The drug maker also said the treatment appears to be effective against the Omicron variant.

“This news provides further corroboration that our oral antiviral candidate, if authorized or approved, could have a meaningful impact on the lives of many, Pfizer CEO  Albert Bourla said in a statement, saying the new drug, called Paxlovid, could “save lives.”

The trial showed that the pill reduced the need for hospitalisation in high-risk adults with Covid-19 by 89 percent if the treatment was given within three days of symptom onset and by 88 percent if given within 5 days, according to the company.

And lab data shows that the pill appears will be also effective in treating people infected with the Omicron variant, according to Pfizer’s statement. 

“We are confident that, if authorised or approved, this potential treatment could be a critical tool to help quell the pandemic,” Bourla said.

Two Pfizer jabs give 70% protection from Omicron

Two shots of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine offers around 70 percent protection against severe disease from Omicron, according to results of a study published Tuesday in South Africa.  

The emergence of the highly mutated variant, first detected in South Africa last month, sparked fears that it could cause severe disease, be more contagious or could evade vaccines. 

Early indicators suggest that it could be more transmissible, but promising data so far has suggested that vaccines still offer protection against Omicron. 

The latest research out of South Africa suggested that two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine still offered  protection against serious illness. 

“The double dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine showing 70 percent effectiveness in reducing risk of hospitalisation,” said Ryan Noach, the head of South Africa’s leading private health insurance company, Discovery, which co-led the study. 

Two doses of the vaccine offered 93 percent protection against earlier variants, according to the companies.   

The study was based on the results of 78,000 PCR tests taken in South Africa between November 15 and December 7 and was conducted by Discovery along with the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC). 

READ MORE: Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine less effective against Omicron, experts say

“We are extremely encouraged by the results,” said SAMRC head Glenda Gray. 

But Noach warned that despite the protection offered by two doses, hospitals could still be overrun since Omicron is spreading rapidly in South Africa. 

Last week, South Africa approved booster shots for all citizens over 18 as it seeks to stem the rise of new infections.

So far more than 17 million people have been vaccinated in South Africa, or around a third of the country’s population.   

The government had initially wanted to vaccinate around 70 percent of the population by year’s end, but has moved that target to March 2022.

Pfizer/BioNTech has previously said that two shots may not be enough to protect against catching Omicron, though they appeared to be effective against severe disease. 

In a preliminary study published last week the companies said a third shot appeared to be effective against the strain.