Biden-Harris Administration to Procure 10m Courses of COVID-19 Oral Antiviral

This week, the Biden-Harris Administration announced it has secured 10 million treatment courses for Pfizer’s COVID-19 oral antiviral drug, pending an emergency use authorization (EUA) or approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The investigational drug, Paxlovid, is under development to treat non-hospitalized, symptomatic adults diagnosed with COVID-19 who are at an increased risk of progressing to severe illness that could lead to hospitalization or death. Pfizer recently announced the results of a clinical trial which found that a treatment course of one dose every 12 hours for five days reduced the rate of hospitalization due to COVID-19 or death by nearly 90 percent of patients treated within three days of symptom onset. Similar results were found when treated within five days of symptom onset.

According to HHS, Paxlovid is a protease inhibitor designed to block an enzyme needed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus to replicate in human cells. Protease inhibitors are a class of drugs that prevent viruses from replicating within cells in the human body, rendering the virus unable to multiply and spread within the body. In laboratory studies, Paxlovid blocked SARS-CoV-2 replication, as well as other coronaviruses, indicating the potential for the drug to be tested in future clinical trials against other coronaviruses.

Through the purchase agreement announced this week, the U.S. government will receive 10 million treatment courses for $5.295 billion, with the first courses delivered by the end of 2021, pending EUA.

Additional information from HHS is available here.