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Pfizer Says Covid Pill Cuts Hospitalization and Deaths by 89%

Pfizer on Tuesday says final analysis of its antiviral Covid-19 pill still shows near 90% efficacy in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk patients.

Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report on Tuesday said final analysis of its antiviral Covid-19 pill still showed near 90% efficacy in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk patients.

In one final study data analyzing the results of patients who took the drugmaker's  experimental Covid-19 pill, Pfizer said its Paxlovid treatment remained 89% effective in preventing hospitalizations in high-risk unvaccinated people when used within three days of the appearance of symptoms. 

That confirmed Pfizer’s earlier analysis of results from a smaller number of patients.

At the same time, a separate study indicated the drug failed to meet the primary goal of reducing self-reported symptoms in 673 adults at standard risk of developing Covid-19 complications, Pfizer said. The drug did show a trend toward reducing hospitalizations in the group by 70%, however.

The complicated results suggest the pill remains likely to become a standard treatment for Covid patients at risk of developing severe disease. But the mixed reading in healthier patients shows more study is necessary before it becomes a go-to option for vaccinated individuals who develop life-threatening infections.

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The high-risk finding “underscores the treatment candidate’s potential to save the lives of patients around the world,” Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said in the statement. “If authorized or approved, this potential treatment could be a critical tool to help quell the pandemic.”

A two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination provides just 33% protection against infection by the omicron variant of the coronavirus, but 70% protection against hospitalization, according to a separate analysis in South Africa released Tuesday.

That analysis was based on more than 211,000 positive Covid-19 test results, 41% from adults who had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. About 78,000 of these positive Covid-19 test results between Nov. 15 and Dec. 7 were attributed to omicron infections. 

The study was carried out by Discovery Health, South Africa’s largest private health insurer, and the South African Medical Research Council.

Shares of Pfizer were down 0.63% at $54.85 in premarket trading at last check.