Local 12: COVID-19 antiviral pill in the works

UC infectious disease expert explains how the medication would work

The next major development in the fight against COVID-19 may not be a patch or a shot, but rather, a pill. 

WKRC-TV, Local 12 reported that several pills are now in development to work against COVID-19. Pfizer has one in the works. Others being studied would work much like those that work in HIV.

Researchers at UC are studying a pill known as AT527. Like other antivirals, it would come in pill form. The hope is that it could be given to help those with COVID-19 before they develop serious symptoms.

The TV station interviewed Carl Fichtenbaum, MD, of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the UC College of Medicine about the COVID-19 AT527 pill. 

“Antiviral medications are looking to interrupt the virus from reproducing itself or either attaching to the person’s body,” Fichtenbaum said.

Ideally, the drug he’s researching, along with Pfizer’s and others from Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, would protect against intensive care unit admissions. They could also lead to faster recovery times, reducing the risk for long COVID symptoms.

Professor Carl J. Fichtenbaum, MD shown here his in lab at MSB. UC/ Joseph Fuqua UC/Joseph Fuqua II

Carl Fichtenbaum, MD, of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the UC College of Medicine/Photo/Joe Fuqua II/UC Creative + Brand

Early results from the COVID-19 antiviral pill trials could come as soon as late fall or winter, but they likely won’t be available to have on hand if you were exposed to the virus.

“Most of the medications are being studied to treat people early on to keep them from getting sicker and ending up in the hospital. And then some of the medications are being given to people who are in the hospital and fairly sick to see if it will make them less sick,” Fichtenbaum said.

He also points out that we do have a way to prevent the virus symptoms already: Vaccines are our best option.

See the entire story here.

Fichtenbaum was also interviewed by Local 12 for a story about experts advising against "mixing and matching" COVID-19 booster shots. See that coverage here

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