US plans to buy enough Covid treatment from Pfizer for 10 million people

The Biden administration plans to pay more than $ 5 billion for a stockpile of Pfizer’s new Covid-19 pill, enough for around 10 million ...

The Biden administration plans to pay more than $ 5 billion for a stockpile of Pfizer’s new Covid-19 pill, enough for around 10 million treatments, after the company ramps up production next year, people say familiar with the agreement.

Senior federal health officials describe the pill as a powerful new weapon against Covid. When administered promptly to test groups of high-risk unvaccinated people who developed symptoms of the disease, the drug dramatically reduced the risk of hospitalization and death.

The action comes at a time when some senior officials in the Biden administration are hopeful the country may have gotten through the worst of the pandemic, even as the onset of winter threatens to further the spread of the infection.

More than 70 percent of the country’s adults are now fully immunized. After taking a horrific toll since midsummer, the virus has left a trail of death and disease, but also more natural immunity in its wake, some public health experts say.

“I think these new oral antivirals will change the way Covid is managed,” said Dr David Dowdy, associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “These will help reduce the burden on hospitals and the number of deaths. “

“But even without these pills, those numbers go down,” he added.

Pfizer Tuesday asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize his pill for unvaccinated people at high risk. A similar drug developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics could be authorized as early as December.

Pfizer spokesperson Kit Longley said while the company is seeking permission to give its pill only to unvaccinated people at this time, it may request a change later, based on clinical trial data.

Both treatments are aimed at people over the age of 65 or who have health problems that put them at a higher risk of severe Covid. Among clinical trial volunteers, the drug Pfizer reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% when given within three days of onset of symptoms.

The Merck pill was about 50% effective when given within five days of symptom onset, although different designs and timing of trials make comparisons imprecise.

Pfizer said it expects to be able to produce enough pills for more than 180,000 people by the end of this year and for more than 21 million in the first half of next year. Merck has also announced plans to increase production over the next year.

The U.S. government originally planned to order 1.7 million treatments from Pfizer, with an additional option of 3.3 million, for about $ 700 per course.

But the new offer of ten million courses should cost significantly less per treatment. The treatment consists of 30 tablets taken over a period of five days.

The contract is still being finalized, but an announcement is expected this week, according to an official close to the deal.

The government also ordered 3.1 million courses of treatment, with options for another 2 million, of the Merck pill, at around $ 700 per person.

Rebecca Robbins contributed reporting.

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Newsrust - US Top News: US plans to buy enough Covid treatment from Pfizer for 10 million people
US plans to buy enough Covid treatment from Pfizer for 10 million people
Newsrust - US Top News
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