The US pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc has announced that its antiviral COVID-19 pill Paxlovid appears to be effective against the omicron variant


The data from three separate lab studies that nirmatrelvir, a main protease inhibitor in the covid pill Paxlovid maintains its effectiveness against the omicron variant of the virus. 

Protease inhibitors are drugs that prevent viruses from replicating.


The company also said that nirmatrelvir in Paxlovid, can maintain plasma concentrations tens of times higher than the amount needed to prevent Omicron from replicating in cells. According to Kris White, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology at Icahn Mount Sinai, early results suggest that the oral treatment retains strong activity against Omicron and other COVID-19 variants of concern.


“These data suggest that our oral COVID-19 therapy can be an important and effective tool in our continued battle against this devastating virus and current variants of concern, including the highly transmissible Omicron,” said Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer. “We will continue to monitor the treatment’s activity in real-world settings and believe that these in vitro findings will continue to be validated.”

Covid 19 pills
Pfizer,s COVID-19 pill Paxlovid appears to be effective against the omicron variant – GettyImages

Pfizer announced the findings in a press release and said it was submitting them to pre-print medical journals. 


Paxlovid is thought to be a major step forward in the fight against the virus since it showed almost 90% efficacy in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk patients when treated within five days of symptoms onset. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month for use in high-risk patients. 


According to the FDA, Paxlovid should be started as soon as possible following a diagnosis of COVID and within five days of the onset of symptoms. 

Paxlovid is administered as three oral tablets (two tablets of nirmatrelvir and one tablet of ritonavir) taken twice daily for five days. 


Since Paxlovid is a pill rather than an injection, it is expected to be more accessible and easier to take than previous treatments. 


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