As the race to be the first to market with an easy-to-use medication against the COVID-19 virus heats up, Pfizer Inc. announced that that its experimental antiviral pill cut rates of hospitalization and death by nearly 90 percent in high-risk adults, AP reported.

Currently, all COVID-19 treatments used in the U.S. require an IV or injection and officials believe an oral pill or capsule would greatly increase the number of people willing to use preventative measures.

Meanwhile, Merck’s COVID-19 pill is already under review at the Food and Drug Administration after showing strong initial results. The United Kingdom has already approved the Merck pill for use.

Pfizer said it will ask the FDA and international regulators to authorize its pill as soon as possible, after independent experts recommended halting the company’s study based on the strength of its results. Once Pfizer applies, the FDA could make a decision within weeks or months. If authorized the company said it would sell the drug under the brand name Paxlovid.

Pfizer released results of its study of 775 adults. Patients who received the company’s drug along with another antiviral shortly after showing COVID-19 symptoms had an 89 percent reduction in their combined rate of hospitalization or death after a month, compared to patients taking a dummy pill, the pharmaceutical company said. Fewer than 1 percent of patients taking the drug needed to be hospitalized and no one died. In the comparison group, 7 percent were hospitalized and there were seven deaths.

The FDA has scheduled a public meeting next week to review Merck’s pill, known as molnupiravir.

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