Coronavirus: Pfizer CEO says COVID-19 pill could be ready by end of the year

Officials at the pharmaceutical company Pfizer say they expect that a pill that treats COVID-19 will be available to the public by the end of the year.

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Albert Bourla, the company’s CEO, said Tuesday he expected the experimental oral drug would be effective against multiple variants of the virus. The drug, Bourla said, would be used to treat those with the virus at the onset of symptoms in hopes that it would keep people from having to go to the hospital for treatment.

Pfizer was the first company to gain the Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine. More than 122 million people have received the Pfizer vaccine.

The new drug is a protease inhibitor, or a drug that fights a virus by blocking an enzyme that the virus needs to make copies of itself in human cells.

Clinical trials on the drug began in March, according to CNBC. Trials will have to be completed with results submitted to the FDA for approval for use.

The drug would be combined with a dose of Ritonavir, an antiviral, to boost the effectiveness of the drug, according to a story in the Telegraph.

“If they have moved to this stage, they will be quietly optimistic,” said Penny Ward, who is the visiting professor in pharmaceutical medicine at King’s College London and a pioneer in the development of Tamiflu, an antiviral that combats seasonal and pandemic flu.

“The question will be about how the drug is tolerated,” Ward told the Telegraph.

Pfizer reported the progress on the drug in a news release last month.

“The oral antiviral clinical candidate PF-07321332, a SARS-CoV2-3CL protease inhibitor, has demonstrated potent in vitro antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2, as well as activity against other coronaviruses, suggesting potential for use in the treatment of COVID-19 as well as potential use to address future coronavirus threats,” the company said in a press release.

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