The makers of a new pill promise it will lessen the effects of COVID-19 symptoms. Meanwhile, Pfizer's new pill is said to cut rates of hospitalization and death by nearly 90%. But do these tools to fight coronavirus also mean fewer people need to get vaccinated?
Doctors say it is an exciting advancement. Since the beginning of the pandemic, researchers have been trying to find a pill to treat COVID-19 that can potentially ease symptoms and speed up recovery.
"The fact that these are oral, [taken for] five days, easy to give is extremely exciting news," said Infectious Disease Dr. Monica Gandhi.
Gandhi said both Pfizer and Merck's COVID-19 antiviral pill will be a game-changer for many people.
"There are two antiviral pills coming out. The one that’s closest is called molnupiravir and it's just been approved in the UK and the FDA will likely approve it on November 30," said Gandhi.
While exciting news, there is some worry that folks will choose not to get vaccinated
"A pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure. It’s, of course, better not to get COVID to begin with and what’s so amazing about the vaccines, it will prevent you from going through the misery of getting COVID," said Gandhi.
Gandhi said it’s so much better to prevent a disease than to treat it.
"I can see a future that even people who are vaccinated but have a mild breakthrough can take these medications and it would reduce transmission to others and very unlikely to get very ill," said Gandhi.
Pfizer is also working on a pill.
The company said it will ask the FDA and international regulators for authorization as soon as possible.
The company tested 775 adults, and patients who received the pill along with another antiviral shortly after it showed an 89% reduction in their combined rate of hospitalization or death after a month.
"It brings down the viral load really quickly and it prevents people from getting severe disease," said Gandhi.
Still doctors say that vaccination will be the best way to protect yourself, but with tens of millions unvaccinated - this pill could be critical in curbing future waves of infections.
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