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Pfizer has an antiviral COVID-19 pill. Here's how it works

Pfizer's new antiviral drug boasts a 90% effective rate for keeping infected people out of hospitals. How does it do that?

WASHINGTON — Is Pfizer’s antiviral pill a pandemic game changer? According to results released by Pfizer, it reduces hospitalization and death by 90% after infection.

It’s a sign of hope for many in the medical community. So, what do we know about the pill?

We verified three fast facts.

OUR SOURCES:

WHAT IS PFIZER’s PILL?

 It is called "Paxlovid," According to the studies. It is a Protease Inhibitor.

“It interferes with the ability of the virus to complete its lifecycle by interfering with the way proteins are processed,” Dr. Adalja said.

He went on to explain it basically disables the virus. Protease inhibitors have been successfully used in treating HIV and Hepatitis C.

WHAT DID THE STUDY RESULTS SHOW?

“[Pfizer’s] trial was in non-vaccinated individuals,” Dr. Adlja explained.

The two pills for five days regimen decreased an infected patient’s chances of being hospitalized or dying by 90%, according to the study.

“This would be game-changing when it's available,” Dr. Adlja said. “I think all of us are anxious to see it, especially in light of fears over Omicron.”

WILL IT REPLACE VACCINES?

Dr. Adlaja said emphatically: No.

“Vaccines are still the best tool that we have to control COVID-19.”

He went on to explain, the role of the Pfizer pill will be for people who get infected and are unvaccinated or high-risk breakthrough infections. Taking the pill could keep them out of the hospital or prevent dying.

“I think it's another hallmark of a transition to a for COVID becoming a much more manageable infection,” Dr. Adalja said.

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