Pfizer's anti-Covid pill, marketed under the name Paxlovid, "makes a difference" by limiting the number of hospitalizations and deaths, at a time when the United States is experiencing a new epidemic wave, welcomed a senior White House official on Wednesday.
After a sluggish start due to difficult access for patients, the drug, taken orally for 5 days as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms, has been used four times more in the past month, said Dr Ashish Jha , new health crisis coordinator at the White House. "20,000 Paxlovid prescriptions are made every day," he said at a press conference.
"I think that's a big reason why, despite the sharp rise in infections, we haven't seen a comparable rise in deaths. We have seen an increase in hospitalizations, but not as much as expected at this point,” he said.
Nearly 100,000 new cases daily
The United States is currently registering around 95,000 new reported cases of Covid-19 per day, an underestimated number due to the expansion of rapid home tests, the results of which are not always reported to authorities.
“I think Paxlovid makes a very big difference,” hammered Dr. Jha, recalling that the eligibility criteria for receiving the drug were “very broad” (people at risk of developing serious cases). This antiviral treatment works by reducing the ability of the virus to replicate, thus curbing the disease.
Congress under pressure
The White House also renewed its call for Congress to vote an additional $22.5 billion in funding. These funds must in particular make it possible to buy doses of vaccines with potentially updated formulas, to better combat the variants in circulation.
Read alsoCovid-19: towards the reimbursement of Paxlovid, the Pfizer pill for patients at risk?
Pharmaceutical companies are currently working on this possibility, and experts from the United States Medicines Agency (FDA) are due to meet in June to discuss it. “Without this additional congressional funding, we will not be able to purchase enough vaccines for all Americans who want one, once these new generations of vaccines are released in the fall and winter,” warned Ashish Jha. “That would be awful. We would see a lot of unnecessary deaths. »
According to him, other countries are already in discussion with the companies for these orders, which the United States cannot do for lack of means on the table. He said he "trusts" Congress to act, but is working on an alternative "plan", potentially with access to new vaccines for those at risk only.
Available in France for a few months, Paxlovid is still little prescribed in France.