Pfizer is testing a Covid-preventing pill on human volunteers in the US and Europe – and it could be ready by the end of the year.
If the trials are successful, the experimental pill could hail the end of lockdowns forever, and become the first drug other than the vaccines to stop people developing Covid.
It is hoped the antiviral drug, named PF-07321332, will prevent severe illness and serve as a second line of defence if new vaccine-resistant strains of Covid emerge.
The pill is currently being given to around 60 ‘clean-living’ volunteers, aged between 18 and 60, at two anonymous Pfizer buildings in the US and Belgium, the Telegraph reports.
The trial’s first phase is expected to end next month, and will be followed by a larger trial if the pill proves successful in stopping Covid.
Pfizer took less than a year to roll out its vaccine and PF-07321332 could reportedly be ready by the end of 2021.
Professor Penny Ward, from King’s College London, said: ‘If they have moved to this stage, they will be quietly optimistic.
‘The question will be about how the drug is tolerated… They will be going like the clappers.’
Meanwhile, clinical trials in the UK are testing whether another antiviral pill stops Covid patients from becoming seriously ill.
Millions of doses of the drug Favipiravir – first developed in Japan in 2014 – will be rolled out to the NHS if it is shown to stop symptoms progressing.
A daily tablet could eventually ‘kill’ the virus if a patient takes it within a few days of testing positive.
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Chief trial investigator Professor Kevin Blyth, from Glasgow University, told Mirror Online: ‘It would be a huge step forward if antiviral drugs work.
‘You don’t have any hospital services being put under enormous pressure because patients never come to the hospital.
‘Normal services can function and you don’t have to have lockdown or other draconian control measures.’
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