Doctors say antiviral COVID pill isn’t going to stop the virus in Alabama

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 9:47 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - FDA officials are reviewing data to potentially approve an antiviral pill that could reduce the risk of hospitalizations from COVID-19.

Alabama Hospital Association President, Dr. Don Williamson, said early data shows that the antiviral pill reduces the risk of hospitalization by 50%, which is not as strong as the 70 percent from monoclonal antibodies. However, since the antiviral pill could potentially be bought at pharmacies and taken at home, Williamson said that makes it more convenient than antibody treatments, and it may be more available to people.

Williamson said if approved, the pill will help hospitalization rates and death rates, but he said the only way to eliminate the virus is the vaccine. Williamson said the pill should not be used as a substitute for the shot.

“If you are serious about stopping mutation of the virus, you have to stop infection and the way you do that is vaccination,” Williamson said. “The idea of an antiviral pill holds promise for everybody, but to be maximally effective, it needs to be a part of a combined strategy of preventing infection and treating infection when it occurs.”

If approved, the pill would be under emergency use authorization. Williamson said they are expecting the decision to be made within the next few weeks, but no word on when it could be in Alabama.

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