“We were hoping we had something extraordinary, but it’s rare that you see great drugs come with almost 90% efficacy and 100% safety for death,” said Dr. Mikel Dolston, chief scientific officer at Pfizer. Said in an interview.
Study participants with mild to moderate COVID-19 were unvaccinated, and were considered to be at high risk for hospitalization due to health problems such as obesity, diabetes or heart disease. Treatment began within three to five days of initial symptoms, and lasted for five days.
Pfizer reported few details on side effects but said the rate of problems was about the same between 20% of the groups.
An independent group of medical experts overseeing the trial recommended stopping this initial, standard procedure, when interim results show such a clear benefit. The data have not yet been published for external review, the usual procedure for examining new medical research.
Top US health officials have been insisting that vaccination remains the best way to prevent infection. But with millions of adults still uninfected – and many more globally – effective, easy-to-use treatments will be key to preventing future waves of infection.
The FDA held a public meeting later this month to review Merck’s pill, known as molnupiravir. The company reported in September that its drug cut hospitalizations and mortality rates by 50%. Experts caution against comparing preliminary results because of differences in studies.