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Paxlovid: UK medicines regulator approves second Covid antiviral pill

Paxlovid: UK medicines regulator approves second Covid antiviral pill

A promising new antiviral pill to treat symptomatic Covid has been approved by the UK medicines regulator.

The drug – Paxlovid – is intended for use soon after symptoms develop in people at high risk of severe disease.

In clinical trials it reduced the risk of hospitalisation or death by 89% in vulnerable adults.

The UK has ordered 2.75 million courses of the tablet which is partly based on an existing HIV medication developed by the US company Pfizer.

Paxlovid, known as a protease inhibitor, is designed to block an enzyme the virus needs in order to multiply. When taken alongside a low dose of another antiviral pill called ritonavir, it stays in the body for longer.

It has been approved for use in the UK in patients over the age of 18 years old who have a mild to moderate Covid infection but are at high risk of their illness worsening.

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