COVID-19 live updates: Pfizer and Merck continue oral antiviral trial

Pfizer and Merck have announced the start of new trials investigating an experimental oral antiviral drug to treat COVID-19. This phase 2/3 trial will include 1,140 participants with a SARS-CoV-2 infection who are not being treated in the hospital and are not at risk of developing severe disease.

The researchers will give the participants the experimental protease inhibitor antiviral — known as PF-07321332 — alongside a low dose of ritonavir. Doctors regularly use ritonavir when treating people with an HIV infection.

According to their press release, “a low dose of ritonavir is expected to help slow the metabolism, or breakdown, of PF-07321332 in order for it to remain in the body for longer periods of time at higher concentrations, thereby working continuously to help combat the virus.”

“If successful,” explains the press release, “PF-07321332/ritonavir has the potential to address a significant unmet medical need, providing patients with a novel oral therapy that could be prescribed at the first sign of infection, without requiring hospitalization.”

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