AN ORAL drug to treat coronavirus at the first sign of illness could soon be available, said Pfizer’s CEO. 

Albert Bourla told CNBC on Tuesday that clinical trials go well the drug could be distributed across the U.S. later this year. 

The company, which developed the first authorised COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. with German drugmaker BioNTech, began oral drug trials in March. 

The drug is being developed simultaneously in the laboratories of the pharmaceutical giant in the United States and Belgium, and uses a mechanism similar to those currently used to treat HIV.

Various company officials have said the drug, known as PF-07321332, would be given as a treatment, and not as a prevention, against the coronavirus. It would be a tablet that people would take in the early stages of infection to prevent them from developing more serious symptoms.

Pfizer’s chief scientific officer and president of research Mikael Dolsten said: “We designed PF-07321332 as a potential oral therapy that could be prescribed at the first sign of infection.” 

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. Researchers hope the medication will keep the disease from progressing and prevent hospital trips.

“We expect to see continued outbreaks of Covid-19 for the foreseeable future,” added Charlotte Allerton, Pfizer’s chief drug designer. “And therefore, as with all viral pandemics, it is important that we have a complete tool kit to address it.”


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