COVID-19 antiviral pill could be ready by end of year, Pfizer CEO says

An oral drug to treat COVID-19 at the first sign of illness, made by Pfizer, could be distributed across the U.S. by the end of the year, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, PhD, told CNBC April 27. 

The drug is a protease inhibitor, a class of drugs that work by inhibiting the enzymes the virus needs to replicate in human cells. The type of drug is used to treat other viruses, such as HIV and hepatitis C, according to CNBC, and Pfizer started clinical trials of the drug against COVID-19 in March. 

Health experts told CNBC that the drug could be a game changer because it could keep people newly infected with COVID-19 out of hospitals. 

Pfizer is also testing an intravenous protease inhibitor drug for patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

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