Even with pills, vaccines and boosters key to fight Covid: Pfizer CEO

New York: While oral anti-viral pills against Covid can turn out as a game changer, vaccines and booster shots continue to be pivotal in the fight against the deadly infectious disease, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has said.

The US drug maker on Friday announced that its new anti-viral pill against Covid-19 named Paxlovid can reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death by 89 per cent for adults at high risk of developing severe disease, when given within three days of symptoms appearing.

It is the second anti-viral pill, after Merck’s Molnupiravir which has shown to halve the risk.

“The fact that we have a treatment is not at all a reason not to take the vaccine, in fact we should take the vaccine. Some unfortunately will get the disease,” Bourla was quoted as saying in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box”.

The anti-viral pills are “for people that already they get the disease. This is for sick people, the goal here is to prevent people from getting sick”, he said.

That’s where Covid booster shots come in, he added. “Boosters are needed because without them we will never get rid of this vicious cycle of the disease.”

Some people still experience harsh breakthrough infections and symptoms, and that’s where Pfizer’s new pill, if approved, would be most useful. “We need to get to herd immunity,” Bourla said.

If cleared by US health regulators, both Pfizer’s and Merck’s anti-viral pills would likely be game changers in the ongoing global pandemic fight, the report said.

Pfizer plans to submit its data to the Food and Drug Administration “as soon as possible.” Bourla told CNBC: “We plan to submit before Thanksgiving holiday.”

The anti-viral pill made by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics was approved by Britain’s medicines regulator on Thursday. Its emergency authorisation is pending both with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency and is likely to be reviewed later this month.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden on Friday said that he has secured “millions of doses” of Pfizer’s anti-viral pill Paxlovid to treat Covid-19, Forbes reported.

It would be “another tool in our toolbox” for the country’s efforts to combat Covid-19,” Biden was quoted as saying. The US has also committed to buying 1.7 million courses of Molnupiravir if it gets approved by the FDA for emergency use.


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