Israeli Health Officials To Review Pfizer COVID-19 Drug Trial, Prime Minister Says

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he instructed health officials over the weekend to study data from Pfizer’s trial for its experimental antiviral drug to treat COVID-19.

Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Bennett said the new drug could be an additional and significant tool in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, the ministry said 194 new coronavirus cases were confirmed the day before after 28,778 tests were performed, indicating a 0.68% positivity rate.

There are currently 178 in serious condition who are being treated in hospitals, and 111 with ventilators.

Since the start of the pandemic, 8,114 Israelis have succumbed to the virus.

The director general of the Ministry of Health, Professor Nachman Ash, said that the ministry will approach Pfizer in the coming days to request information on PAXLOVID, the antiviral drug from the pharmaceutical company to treat COVID-19 and to indicate Israel’s interest. in purchasing the drug pending the FDA. approval.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Friday that his company was in talks with 90 governments around the world interested in buying the antiviral drug for their citizens and that some purchase agreements had already been signed. The Israeli government was not among those mentioned by Bourla.

Pfizer announced Friday that its experimental antiviral pill to treat COVID-19 reduced hospitalization and death rates by nearly 90% in high-risk adults in one trial. Pfizer evaluated 1,200 coronavirus patients who had mild and moderate symptoms and who had at least one underlying condition.

The company said it will ask the FDA and international regulators to authorize its pill as soon as possible, after independent experts recommended stopping the company’s study based on the robustness of its results. Once Pfizer submits the application, the FDA could make a decision in weeks or months.

The FDA is also reviewing a coronavirus drug produced by Merck Pharmaceuticals, after showing strong initial results, and on Thursday the UK became the first country to approve its use.

Senior Immunotherapy Specialist Professor Cyrille Cohen said the drug is different from existing drugs given to COVID patients to date.

“Existing drugs targeted the possible complications caused by the virus,” he said, “but the Pfizer drug will prevent complications from occurring.”

“This could reduce the number of people willing to receive coronavirus vaccines,” he said. “It is better not to be infected by the virus at all and the risk of variants remains a source of concern,” Cohen said.

The anti-viral drug aims to prevent the virus from reproducing within cells, similar to what some anti-HIV drugs do.

But Professor Ronen Ben-Ami, who heads the infectious diseases department at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, cautioned that the drug company has yet to provide data to support its announcement.

“What we have heard sounds very interesting and promising, but it is also expensive and is not likely to be available in parts of the world where the vaccination rate is low,” he said.

“We know that early treatment of COVID-19 can prevent hospitalizations and deaths,” said Professor Galia Rahav, director of infectious diseases at Sheba Medical Center.

“This is an important message for those receiving treatment at home and too late for those already hospitalized,” he said. “The challenge will be to ensure that the drugs are given to everyone who receives treatment in the community, who needs them,” he said.



Reference-www.ynetnews.com

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