Dr. Anthony Fauci touted Pfizer’s soon-to-be approved Covid-19 antiviral pill as “very important” for ending the pandemic, but warned that it won’t be widely available for several months as the U.S. experiences a significant surge in infections fueled by the delta and omicron variants.
Fauci said Sunday on ABC’s This Week that Pfizer’s antiviral pill—which a clinical trial reported could cut the rate of hospitalization or death from coronavirus by 90%—is in the process of being “mass produced” so it can become widely available, though it will take a few months to do so because “it is a very complicated synthetic process to make the drug.”
The White House’s Chief Medical Advisor said that the results from the clinical trial are “quite impressive” and could help “high risk” people and “dramatically diminish the likelihood they’re going to end up in the hospital.”
Fauci said he does not expect to see lockdowns implemented in response to the rising cases as long as safety precautions like mask wearing, getting vaccinated and boosted are followed, though some parts of the country could see “significant” strains on their healthcare systems.
Fauci urged that mask wearing and being vaccinated are both essential to prevent getting ill and spreading the virus to someone else, responding to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), who declined to re-implement a mask mandate because of the protective nature of vaccines.
Over 61% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and roughly 29% have received a booster dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which Fauci and other health officials have touted as the best way to prevent infection from the omicron variant. The CDC predicted Wednesday that cases will jump 55% and the country will report 1.3 million infections in the week ending December 25. New York state broke its record for the most daily Covid-19 cases reported throughout the entire pandemic for the second consecutive day in a row on Friday and Saturday, as cases surged around the country.
Pfizer’s antiviral pill and a similar medicine from drugmaker Merck have yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Merck’s was recommended for emergency use by an FDA advisory board last month. Pfizer applied for emergency use of their pill in November.
FDA Panel Recommends Merck’s Covid-19 Antiviral Pill For Emergency Use Authorization (Forbes)
New York State Reports Highest Number Of Daily Covid Cases Since Pandemic Began (Forbes)