There are some less effective alternatives to flu shots: a flu aiding antibiotic pills. Similar to that idea, Pfizer, along with Merk, is excited to disclose pills that could help keep people out of the hospital if they have the infamous coronavirus.
Even though Pfizer’s pill is not as effective as getting the vaccine, it is known to reduce the risk of death or hospitalization by 89% if the people consume it within three days of witnessing symptoms. Merk reports that the death risk is lowered by 50% with their molnupiravir capsule. These pills are produced intended as an add on to hospital based treatments such as monoclonal antibodies and infused antiviral remedesivir. Rather than having immunity to the virus, these pills help cut death rates from this deadly and contagious virus by stopping different stages of the virus’ replication.
“I see them as a one-two punch. Vaccines are prevention. These antivirals are early treatment. Both have utility,” Dr. William Schaffner, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told CNN. Additionally, Dr. Amesh Adalja from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security elaborates, “It makes the landscape a lot more promising because what these antivirals represent is more evidence of the ability to tame the virus. It gives us a big toolbox, makes it a more treatable infection. It brings it down from the level of being a five-alarm fire.”
Despite the disclosure of this data, the FDA will still want some questions to be answered, which means this pill will not be available to the public for some time. Because there are already three effective vaccines available to the public, there is no rush, however, to create these pills. CNN writes that “Adalja hopes having Covid-19 antivirals will kickstart a system that should have already existed, with tests available for a range of infections, from flu to strep. ‘People should have the ability to test themselves at home and have that linked to antiviral treatment.’”