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New anti-Covid pill approved in France, first delivery due next week

It has been found to be reduce the risk of serious forms of Covid by around 85% and is effective against Omicron


Paxlovid is to be taken twice a day for five days, in addition to a second medicine called ritonavir Pic: KSai23 / Shutterstock

A new pill to combat Covid has been approved for use by France’s health service quality regulator the Haute Autorité de santé (HAS) and will be available in pharmacies by next week. 

Paxlovid, made by American pharmaceutical company Pfizer, can reduce the risk of serious forms of Covid or death by around 85.2%, the HAS stated after approving the pill yesterday (January 21). 

The treatment is also effective against the Omicron variant. 

It has been recommended for adults with Covid not requiring oxygen support but who are at high risk of the disease becoming serious, the HAS stated. 

“We have reserved 500,000 doses for 2022 and the first deliveries - a few thousand doses - are expected in a week's time," said Olivier Véran, the Minister of Health, on Thursday (January 20).

What is Paxlovid? 

It is an antiviral pill that works to reduce the coronavirus’ capacity to replicate. It is to serve as a complement to vaccines, and will be used on patients who are suffering from bad symptoms, before they are hospitalised or taken to intensive care units. 

It is to be taken twice a day for five days, in addition to a second medicine called ritonavir, another antiviral pill used for HIV. 

A study by Pfizer published in November 2021 said the treatment reduces the risk of hospitalisation and death in high-risk adults by up to 89% in the three days following symptoms, This is a slightly higher efficacy score than the one found by the HAS. 

It was given emergency approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for use in the EU on December 16, 2021. 

Paxlovid is not the only anti-Covid pill. The EMA has also launched a rolling review of molnupiravir, an antiviral pill developed by US company Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

Read more: New antiviral Covid pill to be reviewed by EU medicines agency

Related stories:

Anti-Covid pill Paxlovid to be in French pharmacies by end of January

European medicines regulator approves two new Covid treatments

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