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Britain to distribute new Pfizer COVID-19 antiviral drug Paxlovid

By Doug Cunningham
Britain to distribute new Pfizer COVID-19 antiviral drug Paxlovid
Pfizer's Paxlovid will be available in Britain for those with weakened immune systems starting February 10. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Britain will distribute a second antiviral to those most at-risk to COVID-19, the country's Department of Health and Social Care said Friday.

Pfizer's PF-07321332+ritonavir, known as Paxlovid, will be available in Britain for those with weakened immune systems starting Feb. 10.

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In clinical trials, the new antiviral medication reduced the risk of hospitalization by 88%.

Paxlovid is the second new antiviral to be deployed by the British government after molnupiravir. Britain has procured 2.75 million courses of Paxlovid and 2.23 million courses of molnupiravir.

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"Our pharmaceutical defenses are crucial as we learn to live with COVID-19, and the U.K. is leading the way, especially when it comes to the use of cutting-edge antivirals," Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said in a news release.

The government said eligible patients who test positive for COVID-19 will be assessed over the phone by an expert clinician who will review and discus with the patient what the most appropriate treatment would be for them.

"It is fantastic news that this new treatment, the latest cutting-edge drug that the NHS is rolling out through new COVID-19 medicine delivery units, will now be available to help those at highest risk of COVID-19," NHS National Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis said in the release.

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The European Union's drug regulator on Thursday made a recommendation to allow Paxlovid to be used to treat COVID-19 in adults who do not require supplemental oxygen and who are at increased risk of severe disease.

The United States has committed to purchase 10 million courses of Paxlovid and in December, granted emergency use authorization for the pill.

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