Pfizer Designs First Pill to Treat COVID-19

Pfizer designs pill to treat COVID-19
Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A pill, designed by Pfizer to treat COVID-19, is currently undergoing phase 1 clinical trials.

According to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, an oral pill developed to treat COVID-19 might become available to the public by the end of the year. The pharmaceutical company is currently conducting trials for an oral and injectable antiviral for the disease. The trials are underway in the US and Belgium.  

Despite the rollout of vaccination programs, COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in countries across the world. Although the vaccines are effective at preventing infections, they don’t offer much hope once someone is infected. There is currently no cure for the disease and treatment usually involves supportive therapy. Previously, FDA approved the antiviral drug, Remdesivir for treating COVID-19. However, it is only available in an injectable form and requires a health care setting. Additionally, it is only for those with severe infection.

Pfizer’s oral pill is looking to change all that and will allow patients to undergo treatment from the comfort of their own home; foregoing the need to require hospitalizations.

We have designed PF-07321332 as a potential oral therapy that could be prescribed at the first sign of infection, without requiring that patients are hospitalized or in critical care. At the same time, Pfizer’s intravenous antiviral candidate is a potential novel treatment option for hospitalized patients.

Dr Mikael Dolsten, Chief Scientific Officer, Pfizer

What are Protease Inhibitors?

The oral candidate, PF-07321332, is a protease inhibitor. It had previously shown anti-viral activity against SARS-CoV-2 in an in vitro setting. In the past, protease inhibitors have helped treat HIV and Hepatitis C virus. These class of drugs bind to viral enzymes, called proteases, and prevent the virus from replicating within cells. Moreover, these drugs are well-tolerated among patients.

The Phase 1 trial is recruiting healthy adults with the aim to assess the pill’s safety and tolerability. Additionally, Pfizer is also trialling an injectable protease inhibitor called PF-07304814. The trial is recruiting hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

According to Bourla, the oral pill will be a game-changer for treating COVID-19. And will likely be effective against the coronavirus variants as well.


“Pfizer Initiates Phase 1 Study of Novel Oral Antiviral Therapeutic Agent Against SARS-CoV-2.” PFIZER INITIATES PHASE 1 STUDY OF NOVEL ORAL ANTIVIRAL THERAPEUTIC AGENT AGAINST SARS-COV-2, Mar. 2021,


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