First shipment of Pfizer’s anti-Covid drug arrives in Israel

Israel on Thursday received first shipment of Pfizer’s anti-Covid pill. Prime Minister Nafatali Bennett hailed it as critical to combat the Omicron threat.

“Thanks to our rapid action, the drugs have arrived in Israel quickly and will assist us in getting past the peak of the coming Omicron wave,” Bennett said.

Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill has already got a go-ahead from US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) last week.

In trials, the treatment has been shown to reduce Covid hospitalisations and deaths by 88 percent among at-risk people. 

The pills landed in Israel as coronavirus infections are surging.

Health authorities reported nearly 4,000 new cases Wednesday, a high not seen since September. 

Also Read | UK falls short of self-testing kits amid coronavirus wave

The oral treatments block the virus’ ability to replicate and should withstand variants, experts say.

Until now, the main treatments for Covid have been synthetic antibodies or Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir, which are administered by infusion.

The United States has paid $5.3 billion for 10 million courses of Pfizer’s new treatment, as well as $2.2 billion for treatment from rival Merck, whose pill appears to be less effective.

The European Union’s drug regulator has also allowed member states to use Pfizer’s Covid medications ahead of formal approval as an emergency measure.

(With inputs from agencies)

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