UK approves Pfizer Covid pill that reduces risk of hospitalisation and death by '90 per cent' for high risk groups

Paxlovid has been approved and ordered by Israel and the US

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Britain's medicines regulator on Friday approved Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid, for people over the age of 18 years with mild to moderate illness who are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19.

This follows Israel's decision to approve the pill and order 100,000 units earlier this month.

The US have also approved the Pfizer pill, Paxlovid.

Paxlovid is a faster, cheaper way to treat early Covid-19 infections, though initial supplies will be extremely limited. All the previously authorised drugs against the disease require an IV or an injection.

'The efficacy is high, the side-effects are low and it’s oral. It checks all the boxes,' said Dr Gregory Poland of the Mayo Clinic.

'You’re looking at a 90% decreased risk of hospitalisation and death in a high-risk group — that’s stunning.'

However, Paxlovid has only proven effective if given within five days of symptoms appearing. With testing supplies stretched, experts worry it may be unrealistic for patients to self-diagnose, get tested, see a doctor and pick up a prescription within that narrow window.

In October the UK government approved and ordered units of the first Covid treatment drug.

The drug from Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), works by interfering with the virus’s replication.

It prevents the virus from multiplying, keeping levels low in the body and therefore reducing the severity of the disease.

The MHRA said the drug should be taken as soon as possible following a positive Covid-19 test and within the first five days.