It looks like Pfizer's antiviral pill Paxlovid will be approved for emergency use for people at high risk of severe illness.
The first pill specifically developed to treat Covid-19 cuts the risk of death or hospitalisation by 89 per cent in trials, according to its manufacturer, Pfizer.
If the results are replicated in real-world use, they could prove a game changer - saving nine out of ten susceptible patients.
The results were so positive that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cut the trial short, and Pfizer will now submit data for an emergency use licence for the drug.
Antiviral pills that can be taken at home to stop Covid-19 from becoming a more serious illness are seen as crucial in the fight against the virus, and experts hailed the results as potentially marking a “new era” in stopping life-threatening disease in the pandemic.
The Biden administration is planning to purchase 10 million courses of Pfizer’s covid pill, a $5 billion investment. Which puts the cost per treatment at US$500.
A drug cocktail could help fight the new variant after results show it is four times better at keeping people out of intensive care than the current treatment.
Sir Christopher Edwards, the former vice-chancellor of Newcastle University, has recently conducted trials showing that a combination of spironolactone, a heart failure drug, and the steroid dexamethasone work far better than dexamethasone alone.
Dexamethasone became the first drug to be licensed for the treatment of Covid-19 after Sir Christopher recommended the treatment to Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, who was tasked with finding drugs which could be repurposed for coronavirus.
But he believes more lives could be saved if spironolactone was included, and is calling for wider trials of the “Spidex” regime after early trials showed extremely promising results.
In a randomised controlled trial in Delhi, just 5.4 per cent of hospitalised patients taking “SpiDex” needed to be admitted to intensive care compared to 19.6 per cent of those taking dexamethasone alone.
A study published last week in Frontiers in Endocrinology also showed that 40 Covid-19 patients taking the “SpiDex” cocktail did better on every clinical, biochemical and radiological measure than 40 patients on a high dose of dexamethasone.
No patients died while taking “SpiDex” but there was one death in the dexamethasone-only group.
In 20 out-patients treated with “SpiDex” there were no adverse events, and 95 per cent were asymptomatic at 10 days including full recovery of taste and smell.