President Joe Biden recently said that more than 250,000 treatment courses of Paxlovid, Pfizer’s antiviral pill, will be available in January following its authorization by the FDA.

“With this action, we add the first-ever oral treatment to our nation’s medicine cabinet and take a significant step forward in our path out of the pandemic,” he said. “As soon as emerging science showed the promise of this antiviral, we acted quickly and aggressively to pre-purchase 10 million treatment courses—more than any other country in the world.

“We will have over 250,000 treatment courses available to us in January and we will be working with states to ensure those are being distributed equitably and fairly and that our hardest-hit communities are reached.”

Paxlovid, authorized Wednesday, becomes the first antiviral COVID pill authorized for ill people to take prior to hospitalization. The pill “should be initiated as soon as possible after diagnosis of COVID-19 and within five days of symptom onset,” an FDA statement said.

It combines a new antiviral drug, nirmatrelvir, and an older one, ritonavir, and is administered as three pills given twice a day for five days.

Pfizer released data that shows it cuts the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% in high-risk adults if given within a few days of first symptoms. If given within the first five days of symptoms, the efficacy was still 88%.

The president has pledged “any resource needed” to ensure distribution, including, “if warranted,” using the Defense Production Act.

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