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Photo: Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pfizer announced Monday that it is testing an oral antiviral drug that would help prevent COVID-19.

Why it matters: This drug is one of several antiviral pills that could have a massive impact on coronavirus treatment since not everyone will get a vaccine, and it may take years to fully vaccinate people in certain countries, per Axios' Alison Snyder.

What to expect: The mid-to-late-stage study will test Pfizer's drug, PF-07321332, designed to block the activity of the main enzyme the coronavirus needs to multiply, per a Pfizer statement.

  • This will be co-administered with a low dose of ritonavir, which is widely used in combination treatments for HIV infection.

For the record: Remdesivir, a drug investigated earlier to treat Ebola and other diseases, is to date the only antiviral approved in the U.S. for COVID-19.

What they're saying: Mikael Dolsten, chief scientific officer and president of Pfizer, said in a statement that the drug would complement the "impact that vaccines have had in helping quell infections."

  • "If successful, we believe this therapy could help stop the virus early — before it has had a chance to replicate extensively — potentially preventing symptomatic disease in those who have been exposed and inhibiting the onset of infection in others," Dolsten added.

Go deeper

Oct 27, 2021 - Health

Merck to share antiviral COVID pill formula with developing countries

Photo: Christopher Occhicone/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Merck said Wednesday it granted the Medicines Patent Pool, a United Nations-backed nonprofit, a royalty-free license for molnupiravir, an oral antiviral COVID-19 pill that it developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

Why it matters: The license means generic-drug companies in 105 low- and middle-income countries will be allowed to produce the experimental drug after it gains regulatory approval, which would greatly expand the availability of the medication to nations that have so far lacked access to coronavirus vaccines.

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot — FDA panel endorses Pfizer vaccines for 5-11 year olds — Moderna says vaccine shows strong immune response in kids
  2. Health: COVID cases, deaths at meat plants were far higher than previously thought — 96% of Tyson Foods employees vaccinated ahead of mandate deadline — U.S. releases updated vaccination, testing rules for foreign travelers
  3. Politics: Louisiana lifts mask mandate except for some schools — Alabama governor orders state agencies to fight federal vaccine mandate — Axios-Ipsos poll: Confidence in Biden COVID recovery tumbles
  4. Education: Benefits of vaccine for children outweigh risks, FDA says — Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
21 hours ago - Health

COVID cases, deaths at meat plants were far higher than previously thought

Tyson Foods in Portland, Maine, in 2020. Photo: Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Cases and deaths from COVID-19 among workers at the five largest U.S. meatpacking companies were nearly three times higher than previously thought, according to a memo from the House panel probing the response to the pandemic.

Driving the news: At least 59,000 workers contracted COVID-19 and 269 workers died at Tyson Foods, JBS USA, Cargill, National Beef and Smithfield Foods — which together make up more than 80% of the beef market and 60% of the pork market in the U.S. — according to counts through January of this year.