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Photo: Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pfizer said Tuesday it has asked the FDA for emergency authorization of Paxlovid, its experimental COVID-19 treatment.

Why it matters: Antiviral drugs can be a key pandemic-fighting tool, as not everyone will get vaccinated against the virus, Axios Caitlin Owens reports. If authorized, the drugs can also be administered at home.

Driving the news: The Pfizer pill regimen was shown in clinical trials to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 89% in people at high risk of severe illness, Pfizer said earlier this month.

  • The pill was developed specifically to treat COVID-19, by blocking the activity of the main enzyme the virus needs to multiply.

What they're saying: "The overwhelming efficacy achieved in our recent clinical study of Paxlovid, and its potential to help save lives and keep people out of the hospital if authorized, underscores the critical role that oral antiviral therapies could play in the battle against COVID-19," Pfizer CEO and chair Albert Bourla said in a statement.

  • "We are moving as quickly as possible in our effort to get this potential treatment into the hands of patients, and we look forward to working with the U.S. FDA on its review of our application, along with other regulatory agencies around the world," Bourla added.

What to watch: The FDA said last month that it will hold an advisory meeting on Nov. 30 to review Merck's experimental oral antiviral COVID-19 treatment.

  • It has not yet said when it will discuss the Pfizer application.

Go deeper: Pfizer agrees to share recipe for COVID-19 pill

Go deeper

NY declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron COVID variant

Gov. Kathy Hochul at an event on Nov. 3. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday declared a state of emergency amid rising COVID-19 cases and the newly identified Omicron variant of the virus.

Driving the news: The declaration enables the state to acquire supplies to fight a potential surge in cases, increase hospital capacity and combat potential staff shortages, NBC's local affiliate reports.

Storms pummel flood-hit Pacific Northwest as border river overflows

An image of the water-logged Sumas Prairie area taken last Friday. Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Twitter.

The latest ferocious storm system to hit the Pacific Northwest triggered fresh evacuation orders and at least one mudslide in flood-ravaged British Columbia, Canada, late Sunday.

Threat level: Flood sirens sounded in Washington state as the Nooksack River overflowed. Henry Braun, mayor of Abbotsford, B.C., told reporters the water flow was headed toward the Canadian border city later Sunday. "There's nothing to stop it," he said.

Updated 5 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.