Pfizer COVID pill cuts hospitalization, death

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer says it has developed an oral drug for COVID-19 that significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization and death among coronavirus patients. It is applying to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize the drug for emergency use.

The company is in the final stage of clinical trials involving more than 770 patients who are at risk of developing serious symptoms. It says those who were given the drug saw their risk of hospitalization and death drop by 89 percent, compared to those who took a placebo.

Pfizer Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten said he thinks this is one of the biggest medical advances for a single drug in virology in a long, long time.

Last month, US pharmaceutical company Merck asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its own oral medicine. Regulators in the UK approved that one on Thursday. It was the first time a coronavirus pill was authorized by any country.