SAN JOSE, CALIF.—Pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced its development of “Paxlovid,” a COVID-19 pill claiming to dramatically cut the risks of symptoms in later COVID-19 stages by 89% on Nov. 5, 2021.
Simply prescribed to patients, “Paxlovid” would be distributed in pharmacies and hospitals, just as other commonly taken pills like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are. Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive officer, Albert Boula, described the pill as a complete “game-changer” and claimed that the drug maintains “the potential to save patients’ lives, reduce the severity of COVID-19 and eliminate up to nine out of ten hospitalizations.” Pfizer also proceeded to state that the “scheduled interim analysis (of “Paxlovid”) revealed an 89% reduction in risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization,” showcasing the pill’s biggest strength. Pfizer is currently awaiting the approval of “Paxlovid” from the FDA.
The “Paxlovid” trials, which featured an abundant 1,200+ participants already sick with moderate coronavirus symptoms, resulted in zero deaths. The rates of hospitalization in patients who took the “Paxlovid” pill in comparison to patients who did not were nearly cut in half. These results are highly significant in considering that 10 patients who received a placebo pill died of COVID-19.
Scott Ratzan, who conducted a research experiment surveying 3,000 students from the CUNY school of public health revealed that one out of every eight of the participants would rather take a pill than get vaccinated for the coronavirus. Despite Pfizer’s solid self-marketing, physicians have made clear that “Paxlovid” is not a substitute for the coronavirus vaccine and fear that the release of the pill to the public will cause a decline in COVID-19 vaccination rates.
To model Ratzan’s experiment, Silver Creek High School students Tanzie Tran, Jacklyn Luu and Amanda Quach were asked about their choice in taking the pill versus getting vaccinated. Luu and Tran voiced the same opinion, similarly stating that if the pill was a singular dosage they would prefer to take it over the vaccine. Luu and Tran also added that the pill would be a good substitute for those who don’t have access to the vaccine and is beneficial to younger kids, or those who simply experience lighter symptoms. In contrast, Quach said that “taking the vaccine is just as easy as taking a pill, but the vaccine has more benefits.”
As an antiviral drug, “Paxlovid” is a specifically designed SARS-CoV-2-3CL protease inhibitor. This means it obstructs the ability of particular enzymes to break down proteins, preventing the coronavirus from making copies of itself. “Paxlovid” has also revealed itself to be greatly effective against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC) and several other variants of coronavirus.
Thus, the scientific medical field has further advanced its knowledge in treating the deadly COVID-19. While pills are being developed, other forms of symptom relief or even treatment could emerge. Even as “Paxlovid” has yet to be in its early stages of clinical distribution, questioning the effects of formally releasing the antiviral drug is up to the public.