Pfizer Testing Single-Dose Pill To Treat COVD-19

Pfizer is testing a single-dose pill to treat COVID-19; KDKA's Dr. Maria Simbra reports.

Video Transcript

- Pfizer is testing a single dose pill to treat COVID-19.

- It's an at-home treatment intended to be taken at the first sign of infection. Dr. Maria Zimbra explains how it could revolutionize COVID treatment.

DR. MARIA ZIMBRA: Shannon Bott came down with COVID at Thanksgiving.

SHANNON BOTT: It was just the worst I've ever felt. I mean, I've had bronchitis. I've had the flu, and it was much worse than either of those and it went on for so long. And I definitely was extremely sore, feverish, no energy for close to a month.

DR. MARIA ZIMBRA: She wishes there had been a pill she could have taken to shorten the illness and make it less severe.

SHANNON BOTT: There was just such worry about how is this going to progress? Is it going to get worse? People just all of a sudden go from doing OK to not being OK. Having some sort of treatment that mitigates some of that would have been fantastic.

DR. MARIA ZIMBRA: Pfizer is working on that-- a pill you would take early on, just after symptoms start, similar to taking Tamiflu for the flu.

DR. BRIAN LAMB: This is hopefully something that we could roll out, you know, at the first sign of illness to keep you from ever having to come to the hospital, to ever be admitted to the ICU.

DR. MARIA ZIMBRA: Currently, available treatments require an IV, but this would not.

DR. BRIAN LAMB: This could be a true game changer. This is something as easy as I have symptoms. I have a positive exposure. We could think about starting something right then.

DR. MARIA ZIMBRA: The drug is in a class of medications called protease inhibitors. They can be used for other viral infections, such as HIV and Hepatitis C. They can be used in combination with other antivirals. The medicine interferes with enzymes the virus needs to make copies of itself. Pfizer started early phase studies in March.

DR. BRIAN LAMB: We have to make sure that it works in a human and that it's safe for us to take.

DR. MARIA ZIMBRA: Sometimes protease inhibitors affect the digestive system and metabolism, but they're generally well-tolerated. If all goes well with the trials, the medication could get emergency use authorization by the end of the year. But Dr. Lamb says don't skip your vaccine and rely on this possibility to save you from COVID.

DR. BRIAN LAMB: We don't want anyone to pin their hopes on something which may not come out.

DR. MARIA ZIMBRA: If Shannon developed COVID again and this pill were available, she would want it.

SHANNON BOTT: I don't want to have to go through that again.

DR. MARIA ZIMBRA: Having an outpatient option for herself and loved ones would give her peace of mind. I'm Dr. Maria Zimbra, KDKA News.