Britain has approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill for patients over the age of 18 years who have mild to moderate infection and are at high risk of their illness worsening.
The approval comes as the country scrambles to build its defences amid a record surge in COVID-19 cases.
Based on data, the pill, Paxlovid, is most effective when taken during the early stages of COVID-19, Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said on Friday, recommending that the drug be used within five days of the onset of symptoms.
Pfizer this month said Paxlovid showed near 90% efficacy in preventing hospitalisations and deaths in high-risk patients, and recent lab data suggests the drug retains its effectiveness against the fast spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
“We now have a further antiviral medicine for the treatment of COVID-19 that can be taken by mouth rather than administered intravenously. This means it can be administered outside a hospital setting,” MHRA chief June Raine said in a statement.