LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A game-changer in the fight against COVID-19 could come as early as this week. According to Bloomberg, two pharmaceutical companies could receive FDA Emergency Use Authorization for pills to treat COVID-19.
Pfizer and Merck say their oral treatment pills could help prevent hospitalizations and deaths caused by COVID-19.
The Southern Nevada Health District currently reports more than 23,055 patients are in the hospital because of COVID. Nevada's test positivity rate sits at 7.6 percent.
Pfizer CEO & Chairman Albert Bourla says that the drug is only meant to treat COVID at home at the onset of symptoms. Bourla says vaccines are still the primary tool to get through the pandemic.
"When you have peaks of this disease, when you have the waves that are coming, the hospitals are really overcrowded, and that creates significant issues to the health care system," Bourla said. "With this pill, we are expecting out of ten people going to the hospital, one will go, and no one is dying."
Merck reports that its drug has a 30 percent efficacy rate, while Pfizer says its drug has a 90 percent rate. The U.S. is under contract to buy 5 million courses of the Merck drug and 10 million courses of the Pfizer pill. If the companies are granted approval from the FDA, the drug could be available in the U.S. by the end of the year.