A Pill to End Covid-19?
Updated: Aug 9, 2021
As more and more people around the world are getting vaccinated for COVID-19, the question of what next still lingers. Medical professionals and epidemiologists alike suspect that coronavirus will likely not be leaving for a while. But will rather evolve into a seasonal illness that makes its rounds, like the flu.
So scientists at Pfizer, have set out to create a TheraFlu for COVID-19. A pill that will stop the infection and can be taken from the comfort of your own home. Here’s what you need to know:
Pfizer’s COVID-19 oral antiviral drug is also known as PF-07321332. The drug is a protease inhibitor and has demonstrated “potent in vitro (in a culture or test tube) anti-viral activity against SARS-CoV-2”, according to researchers at Pfizer. PF-07321332 plays an important role in finally exterminating COVID-19 entirely. Researchers speculate that both a vaccine for preventing infection and a form of targeted treatment for those infected with COVID-19 will be required.
Unlike the vaccines currently available for COVID-19, this pill is meant to be taken after becoming infected with COVID-19. Moreover, the only treatment for those currently infected with COVID-19 largely consists of laboratory-created antibodies. These treatments can be expensive and difficult to administer. PF-07321332, on the other hand, works like TheraFlu, halting symptoms and hindering the virus’s ability to replicate within your cells. As stated above, this drug could potentially rid the need to go to the hospital from COVID-19, as you could take PF-07321332 from home after receiving a prescription.
How it works:
PF-07321332 is a protease inhibitor, specifically targeting COVID-19’s 3CL protease. But before explaining how a protease inhibitor works, it’s important to understand how COVID-19 spreads throughout the body.
COVID-19 infects a person by penetrating your cells.
Proteases are the enzymes used by COVID-19 to cut long proteins.
Once the proteins are shortened, the virus can replicate itself in the cell.
After a cell becomes infected, the virus will spread to more cells and replicate the process.
A protease inhibitor blocks COVID-19’s proteases from doing their job- which will halt the infection process altogether. Without proteases shortening the proteins, the virus is unable to replicate and will die out. This could prevent someone infected with COVID-19 from developing deadly symptoms or chronic COVID.
Protection against variants:
Because the antiviral drug targets a different component of COVID-19’s life cycle, it is thought to have better results against variants than the vaccines. The COVID-19 variants can slide by the vaccines due to changes in their spike proteins, the element of the virus that assists it in latching onto healthy cells. Whereas PF-07321332 does not deal with spike proteins at all, but instead inhibits the protease. And regardless of spike protein, all COVID-19 variants still rely on the protease to replicate within a cell.
Researchers have already tested PF-07321332 against other variants, and have found it to be “potent” as an anti-viral agent for multiple variants. Moreover, protease inhibitors are already in use, and largely effective, in treating hepatitis C and HIV. All good signs for PF-07321332 to be more effective than vaccines for those already infected against future COVID-19 variants.
But testing antivirals is a bit more difficult than vaccines. The pill needs to be given in the early stages of a COVID-19 infection. And finding people who catch the infection early can be challenging, especially given COVID-19’s propensity for mild symptoms. Further, researchers must be able to prove that the drug has made a meaningful impact on the health of infected people.
Regardless of difficulties in testing, the CEO of Pfizer is confident that PF-07321332 could be available to the public as early as the end of 2021. This is great news as more contagious and potentially dangerous COVID-19 variants continue to spread throughout the US.
In the meantime, you should still be working to optimize your health in order to protect yourself from the future, potentially more dangerous strains of COVID-19.
The Johnson Center recommends a multi-faceted plan to obtain optimal health- encompassing biological and genomic testing, nutritional supplementation, and dietary and wellness plans. To learn more, click here.
If you have any more questions about your path to optimal health, email our office at email@example.com or call 276-235-3205.
The Johnson Center for Health services patients in-person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach / Norfolk locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!