Local doctor calls Pfizer’s plans for COVID-19 pill ‘most welcome’

PITTSBURGH — Pfizer’s CEO announced Wednesday a new experimental pill the company is developing to fight COVID-19. It could be available as early as the end of the year.

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“Any news, any developments related to therapies that can either prevent someone from getting sick at all or prevent them from serious complications is most welcome,” said UPMC’s medical director of infection prevention, Dr. Graham Snyder.

Snyder said the drug is in a class called protease inhibitors, which is something that’s already being used.

“We use protease inhibitors for other viral infections, particularly HIV and Hep C,” he said. “The benefit of protease inhibitors: it puts a block, a stop in the machinery the virus relies on to reproduce itself.”

While the antiviral shows promise, doctors caution the drug is still in the earliest phases of development.

Pfizer officials said they asked the FDA earlier this month to authorize the use of the vaccine in children ages 12-15, saying it showed 100% effectiveness. Previously, many medical experts said vaccinating children will help end the pandemic.