FDA authorizes first oral antiviral treatment for COVID

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – The Food and Drug Administration authorized Wednesday the first COVID-19 antiviral pill in the United States to protect against severe disease.

The FDA said in a statement that the drug, called Paxlovid, from Pfizer will be prescribed for use in adults and children ages 12 and up with mild to moderate COVID who are at risk for severe disease or hospitalization.

While the pill form is not a replacement for vaccinations, they add an easily administered treatment to help keep people at high risk of severe illness out of the hospital.

The new treatment could help ease the burden on hospitals as the Omicron variant surges across the U.S. initially, the supply of the drug is likely to be extremely limited, experts say.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement Wednesday that the company is ready to begin delivery of the drug to U.S. consumers “immediately.”

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