Israel gives emergency use approval to Pfizer’s oral COVID treatment

The drug is supposed to arrive in Israel this week.

THOUGH PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu has touted his close relationship with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla (on April 23), Levy was the one to sign the first contract for eight million doses. (photo credit: JOHN THYS/POOL VIA REUTERS)
THOUGH PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu has touted his close relationship with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla (on April 23), Levy was the one to sign the first contract for eight million doses.
(photo credit: JOHN THYS/POOL VIA REUTERS)

Pfizer's Paxlovid, the company's oral medication to treat COVID-19, received emergency authorization from the Health Ministry on Sunday. 

The state has ordered tens of thousands of doses to help it combat the Omicron variant wave. They are supposed to arrive in Israel as early as Wednesday.

Paxlovid, which received approval by the US Food and Drug Administration last Wednesday, is the world’s first at-home treatment for the virus. It inhibits the activity of the protease enzyme, which is necessary in the process of replication of the virus in the body.

The drug, administered as tablets, is meant to be taken by patients in mild to moderate condition within the first three days of symptoms onset. Treatment is once every 12 hours for five days.

Paxlovid received FDA approval after showing in a Phase II/III clinical trial that it reduces severe disease, hospitalization and death by 89% when patients are treated early. 

Signage is seen outside of FDA headquarters in White Oak, Maryland. (credit: REUTERS)Signage is seen outside of FDA headquarters in White Oak, Maryland. (credit: REUTERS)

According to Pfizer’s data, the effectiveness of the pill should not be altered by variants, including the Omicron variant. 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said last month that he had signed an agreement with Pfizer, which has also provided Israel with millions of coronavirus vaccines, to get the pill as soon as it received FDA approval. 

Paxlovid and Merck’s Molnupiravir, thousands of doses which are also en route to the country, are expected to play a key role in fighting the fifth wave in Israel.