April 28, 2021, (FORBES).- Most importantly: A pill that can be taken by mouth at home to combat Covid-19 when the disease is detected would be available to the public by the end of 2021, Albert Bourla CEO of Pfizer told CNBC, pointing out that it is expected that the antiviral treatment is effective against all variants of the coronavirus.
When asked about an article published Monday in the Telegraph, which reported that clinical trials are underway in the United States and Belgium with adult volunteers taking pills designed to provide a “cure” for Covid-19, Bourla acknowledged that it is “correct” to say that Pfizer’s treatments are “working.”
Bourla explained that the company is testing two antivirals, one that is administered intravenously and the other that is administered orally.
He noted that Pfizer is focusing on the oral option because it “provides several benefits”, and the main benefit is to avoid a trip to the hospital or other health care provider for treatment.
Being able to take an oral antiviral treatment for SARS-CoV-2 at home would be a “game-changer, ” according to Bourla.
When asked what he thought was a reasonable timeframe for the pill to fully pass Phase 3 and be available, Bourla replied, “If all goes well … hopefully by the end of the year.”
The Pfizer CEO added that the company plans to provide a detailed update during the summer.
Pfizer announced late last month that phase 1 clinical trials of the drug, called PF-07321332, had begun. Its effectiveness is due to protease inhibitors in the drug that binds to viral enzymes, preventing viruses from replicating in the cell.
“Coping with the Covid-19 pandemic requires both vaccine prevention as well as a targeted treatment for those who contract the virus,” Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, said in a press release.
“Given the way SARS-CoV-2 is mutating and the ongoing global impact of Covid-19, it seems likely that having access to therapeutic options both now and beyond the pandemic is critical .”
According to Pfizer, protease inhibitors have been shown to be effective in fighting other viral pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis C.
What to watch out for?
During Tuesday’s interview, Bourla also stated that it is imperative that poor nations gain greater access to vaccines. “In a pandemic, you are as protected as your neighbor,” Bourla said.
“So, moral issues aside, if we will not be able to offer solutions” for countries facing deadly outbreaks, such as India and Africa, those nations “will become a ‘pool’ where the virus will replicate and generate variants.”
Bourla said that Pfizer will produce at least 2.5 billion doses of its vaccine this year, which is equivalent to 3 billion doses on an annualized basis.
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