In late December, the Food and Drug Administration gave its approval to the production and distribution of two antiviral pills, aimed at shortening the course of the COVID-19 virus as well as preventing hospitalizations. Americans were warned that it may be a few weeks before these pills become available, but President Biden gave his health officials a directive to double the current government purchase of Pfizer’s Paxlovid.
On Tuesday, President Biden authorized his top health aids in the Administration to double the purchase to twenty million pills (his original order for Paxlovid alone was ten million). The Biden Administration also instructed his health officials to speed up the process by which his administration could procure the pills as well as begin distributing them to the public.
Paxlovid was the first antiviral pill given the green light by the FDA; just a day later, the Food and Drug Administration approved an antiviral pill developed by Merck, molnupiravir.
Ahead of the FDA approval of Paxlovid, the Biden Administration announced that it would secure a total of ten million treatment courses of the drug. This order came at a cost of just over $5 billion dollars.
Paxlovid was developed in order to treat individuals who are at a higher risk of hospitalization as a result of contracting COVID-19. Individuals taking the treatment must be symptomatic when prescribed the drug, and they typically must have at least one risk factor – which could be obesity, high blood pressure, or another serious illness. Doctors must identify these patients as having a high potential of developing complications from COVID-19 that could possibly land them in the hospital.
A senior Biden Administration official told Fox News that the development of these pills is just one in a “diverse portfolio” of available treatments for COVID-19.
Since the pandemic began in early 2020, several treatments have been developed in order to treat COVID-19. Monoclonal antibodies are given to patients via an infusion or a series of four shots. These often help patients to feel better within 48 hours of the administration of the antibodies. There are also pre-exposure prevention treatments, and there are now anti-viral pills in order to treat COVID.
It is the hope of the Biden Administration that by the end of January there are more therapeutics available to the public; the Biden official who spoke with Fox News said that the goal is to have at least four million various therapeutics in circulation.
Joe Biden was slated to meet with his health officials on Tuesday afternoon. Once Biden received necessary information, he was expected to make an announcement to the public, including the doubling of the order for Paxlovid. This particular pill is a protease inhibitor which prevents viruses from replicating within the cells of the human body. It is approved for children aged twelve and older as well as adults.