Biden sees pill as pathway out

US President Joe Biden revealed on Thursday that he has secured supplies of a drug he believes could accelerate the path out of the pandemic. His administration has purchased 10 million courses of a pill to fight the coronavirus.

Scientists with the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer applied to regulators on Tuesday for emergency use of Paxlovid. They said adults at high risk should start taking the pills within three days of the onset of symptoms. They said their clinical trial showed the drug reduced the rate of hospitalization and death by 89 percent.

The drug could be available by the end of the year. President Biden said the treatment would be easily accessible and free.

The administration has already committed to buying pills developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Advisors to the Food and Drug Administration are scheduled to meet later this month to discuss emergency authorization of molnupiravir.

Officials at both Pfizer and Merck have announced they will allow their treatments to be made and sold cheaply in poorer countries.