FDA Authorises Pfizer's Anti-COVID Pill: How Does It Work? Who Can Take It?

The US authorised Pfizer's COVID-19 pill meant for high-risk people aged 12 and above. Here's all you need to know.

2 min read
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Guest Author :Saundarya Talwar

The United States on Wednesday, 22 December, authorised Pfizer's anti-COVID pill Paxlovid, meant for high-risk people aged 12 and above.

It received approval for emergency use after being authorised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

How does it work? Who can take it? Here is all you need to know about the pill.

What is Paxlovid?

Paxlovid, manufactured by Pfizer, is an oral pill against COVID-19.

It consists of two kinds of tablets and shows a 88 percent efficacy in reducing cases of hospitalisations and deaths among 'at risk' COVID-19 patients. This was found in a clinical trial conducted with 2,200 participants.


Can Paxlovid replace COVID-19 vaccines?

No. The FDA has stressed that Pfizer's Paxlovid should complement the vaccines rather than replacing them.

Vaccines still continue to be the frontline tool that provides protection against the virus.

How does Paxlovid work?

Paxlovid works by containing the replication of SARS-CoV-2 virus in the human body by binding the 3CL-like protease, which is crucial for the replication of the virus. It is a combination of nirmatrelvir and HIV antiviral ritonavir. Both should be taken as separate tablets because:

  • Nirmatrelvir blocks the action of an enzyme which helps COVID-19 in replication.

  • Ritonavir slows down the breakdown of nirmatrelvir's so it remains in the body "for longer and at higher levels."

The medication was found to be so effective that only 1 percent of the patients treated with it were required to be hospitalised.

What is its dosage and administration?

  • The treatment needs to be initiated as soon as possible after a patient tests positive for COVID-19

  • It is prescribed to begin with the treatment within five days of symptom onset.

  • It is to be taken twice a day for five days.

  • It can be administered with or without food.


What are the limitations of the pill?

It is not authorised for patients who:

  • Require immediate hospitalisation

  • Are not infected with the virus

    It is also not to be used for more than five consecutive days

Can I take Paxlovid at home?

Yes, since it is prescribed for oral intake, it can be taken at home.

However, the medication should not be taken without consulting a physician.

Is it available in India?

No, not yet. Watch this space for more information.

(With inputs from AFP)

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Topics:  FDA   Pfizer   coronavirus 

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