An at-home treatment for COVID-19 that can prevent serious illness was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday, offering a note of optimism for the future of the pandemic as the world faces the omicron variant.
When taken early, Pfizer's pill was 89% effective at reducing the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, according to the company, and was effective against omicron.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla estimated that 1,200 deaths and 6,000 hospitalizations would be prevented for every 100,000 COVID-19 patients who take the pills.
The FDA said the pill, Paxlovid, was authorized for the treatment of mild-to-moderate coronavirus disease in anyone 12 years and older who weighs at least about 88 pounds. Patients must test positive and be at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death.
US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer recently announced a deal to make this antiviral Covid-19 pill available more cheaply in the world's least-wealthy countries.
Pfizer says it will sub-licence production of its Paxlovid pill to generic drug manufacturers for supply in 95 low- and middle-income nations covering around 53 percent of the world's population.
Under the deal struck with the global Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), Pfizer - which also produces one of the most widely-used Covid vaccines with German lab BioNTech - will not receive royalties from the generic manufacturers, making the treatment cheaper.
The Geneva-based MPP is a United Nations-backed international organisation that works to facilitate the development of medicines for low- and middle-income nations.
If approved, the pill could be on the market in "a matter of months", MPP policy chief Esteban Burrone told AFP.
Solomon Islands has struggled with its vaccination drive, part of the problem lies with misinformation peddled on social media. A pill could make a difference, given its higher level of acceptance as a form of medical treatment – it is a game changer should community spread takes place and becomes difficult to manage.
News Desk with abcnews.go.com and reports from france24.com