The United States is doubling its purchase order for Pfizer’s recently authorized COVID-19 antiviral pill from 10 million treatment courses to 20 million.
Last month, the Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization for Paxlovid for non-hospitalized, symptomatic adults and children over the age of 12 who have a high risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19. The U.S. agreed to purchase 10 million courses of treatment in November, pending the FDA’s authorization. Those treatments cost $5.295 billion.
The drug is available by prescription only, and treatment should begin within five days of the onset of symptoms. The treatment requires taking two tablets of nirmatrelvir and one ritonavir tablet twice a day for five days.
“When it comes to COVID-19 therapeutics, we have approached it like filling a medicine cabinet – we are not relying on one type, or one brand, or one treatment,” a White House official told Fox News. “We ensured that we would invest in and buy a broad variety – across monoclonal antibodies, pre-exposure prevention treatments, and antiviral pills.”
President Joe Biden made the announcement on Tuesday (January 4) during brief remarks before meeting with his COVID-19 response team.
“These pills are going to dramatically decrease hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19. They’re a game-changer and have the potential to dramatically alter the impact of Covid-19, the impact it’s had on this country and our people,” Biden said.
Pfizer said it should have the first batch of 10 million treatment courses available by the end of June, with the rest available by September.