Oyogist.com has learned that China has approved emergency use of Pfizer’s Covid-19 oral pills – in the country’s first foreign treatment for the coronavirus disease.
The pills, brand named Paxlovid, would be used to treat adults with mild to moderate Covid-19 with high risk of progression to severe disease, the Chinese drug regulator said in announcing the conditional approval on Saturday.
Such patients would include the elderly, and those with chronic kidney issues, cardiovascular or chronic lung disease, diabetes, and other high-risk factors for Covid-19, it said.
“On February 11, the National Medical Products Administration conducted an emergency authorisation review of Paxlovid in accordance with the special drug approval process and an approval with conditions was granted for the import registration of Pfizer’s Covid-19 treatment,” it said in a statement on Saturday morning.
Pfizer will be required to continue with research work and submit the results of follow-up studies for a general approval.
The approval could bring China one step closer to opening up the country, which is still responding to the pandemic with largely closed borders and strict public health interventions, such as contract tracing and lockdowns.
Effective therapeutic treatment has been identified by public health experts, such as top respiratory specialist Zhong Nanshan in November, as one of the conditions for the country to fully relax controls.
Other pathways mentioned by Zhong included a less severe strain that limited the Covid-19 case fatality rate to less than 0.1 per cent, keeping the virus’ reproduction number within the range of 1.0 to 1.5, and establishing herd immunity with a high vaccination rate.