WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Making and distributing billions of vaccines fast is difficult to say the least – this is a new novel solution.
As the global pandemic has gripped the world a race began to develop vaccines in record time, and then came the problem of making enough doses and having to distribute them to the billions of people around the world who needed them – something that almost every company and every country struggled with.
Evidently having to make vaccines in the traditional way, and secure enough glass, viles, and manufacturing capacity to make them all was difficult. So, then began a new vaccine race – to develop vaccines that didn’t need to be injected, that could be breathed in or taken in pill form, and that protected against every kind of future Coronavirus strain. And now we’re nearing the finishing line with several trials nearing completion and Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla announcing that their experimental oral drug to treat Covid-19 at the first sign of illness could be available by the end of the year.
The company, which developed the first authorized Covid-19 vaccine in the US with German drug maker BioNTech, began trials in March. The drug is part of a class of medicines called protease inhibitors and works by inhibiting an enzyme that the virus needs to replicate in human cells. Protease inhibitors are used to treat other viral pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis C.
If clinical trials go well and, more importantly, the Food and Drug Administration approves it, the drug could be distributed across the US by the end of the year.
Health experts say the drug, taken by mouth, could be a game changer because people newly infected with the virus could use it outside of hospitals and could even be posted to patients. Researchers hope the medication will keep the disease from progressing and prevent hospital trips.
In addition to the drug Pfizer is still testing its vaccine in 6 month to 11 year old children. Vaccinating children is crucial to ending the coronavirus pandemic, public health officials and infectious disease experts say.
Earlier this month, the company asked the FDA to expand its vaccine authorization to adolescents ages 12 to 15 after the shot was found to be 100% effective in a study. Bourla says he is “very optimistic” that the FDA will approve use of the shot in adolescents.