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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

Nov 26, 2021 - Health

Fauci: U.S. "rushing" to get scientific data about new COVID variant

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

U.S. public health officials were set to speak Friday with their South Africa counterparts as they sought scientific details about a new COVID-19 variant already prompting European and Asian countries to enact new travel restrictions.

Driving the news: Anthony Fauci, President Biden's chief medical adviser, told CNN Friday "we're rushing now to get that scientific data to try and make an informed decision" on a possible travel ban.

Nov 26, 2021 - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.

Updated Nov 26, 2021 - Health

Europe, Asia tighten borders in fear of new COVID variant

Passengers stand at the check-in at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Boris Roessler/dpa via Getty Images

Countries across Europe and Asia are rushing through new travel restrictions in response to a new COVID variant identified by scientists in South Africa.

The big picture: Israel, Japan, the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Singapore are moving to restrict entry from countries in the south of Africa, AP reports. Many are also adding quarantines for their own citizens upon return from the region.