Drugmakers eye alternative to COVID-19 vaccines

Currently, there’s just one antiviral approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19, which is Remdesivir by Gilead Sciences.

Its biggest disadvantage is that it was developed as an intravenous drug and targeted at hospitalized COVID-19 patients, among whom it was shown to modestly reduce recovery time.

But by the time COVID has progressed to severe, much of the harm to patients’ health comes from their own immune systems going into overdrive and damaging their organs, rather than viral replication.

That’s why the focus now is on oral formulations that can be taken within days of infection.

Pfizer, which has developed one of the pandemic’s foremost vaccines, is also attracting significant attention for its oral drug, which has begun Phase 1 human trials in healthy patients.

Roche and Atea have also begun a 1,400-patient trial to study their own oral polymerase inhibitor, which ” has so far been shown to be very potent in vitro.”

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