Pfizer says its antiviral Covid-19 treatment Paxlovid cuts the chance of ending up in the hospital or dying by 89%.

What differentiates this from other medicines we have used since the start of the pandemic is it provides the opportunity for patients to be treated at home, with a combination of a capsule and a pill.

The phase two/three trial data on which those hospitalisation rates are based have yet to be independently verified. Nor has the treatment been approved by any country for use outside a clinical trial.

Yet this development adds to our growing portfolio of potential options to directly target SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 and to treat its symptoms.

What is it?

Paxlovid is a combination of two different drugs – the HIV drug ritonavir (a capsule) and an experimental drug PF-07321332 (a pill).

Ritonavir protects the body from metabolising PF-07321332. It acts by being broken down by the body first (known as a sacrificial chemical) to ensure enough PF-07321332 reaches the virus intact.

PF-07321332 is a so-called protease inhibitor (as…

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