Health Canada has approved a Pfizer pill to treat COVID-19

Health Canada has officially approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral treatment for use in adults 18 years of age and older. Considering Quebec hospitals are currently overwhelmed, approval of the drug, called Paxlovid, could be the light at the end of the tunnel that many have been looking for. (Although, of course, we’ve heard that phrase before.)

Quebec Health and Social Services Minister Christian Dubé commented on the approval Monday, calling it “very good news” for the province and its overwhelmed health care system. In a tweet, Dubé said that “we can hope that this treatment will eventually allow us to limit our hospitalizations due to COVID-19”.

Paxlovid is not preventive like a vaccine – it is designed to be used to treat an infection. The treatment is said to ease the symptoms of mild to moderate infections and reduce the length of time an individual remains ill with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Drugs combines nirmatrelvir – an inhibitor designed to block the replication of the virus – with ritonavir – which helps slow the body’s breakdown of nirmatrelvir so that it stays active longer. It will be available by prescription only and is the first-ever antiviral treatment in pill form available to Canadians for the home treatment of COVID-19.

After months of clinical trials by Pfizer, Health Canada observed that “Paxlovid reduced the proportion of participants hospitalized or dead due to COVID-19 by 89.1% through day 28, compared to placebo”.

Canada has already secured 1 million courses of treatment, of which more than 30,000 have already arrived, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed in a January 17 tweet. The government expects to receive an additional 120,000 courses of Paxlovid from Pfizer by the end of March.

The cover image of this article was used for illustrative purposes only.