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Israel gets first shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-fighting Paxlovid pill

The first shipment of Pfizer's Paxlovid pills is seen being offloaded from a plane at Ben Gurion Airport, December 30, 2021. (Courtesy)
The first shipment of Pfizer's Paxlovid pills is seen being offloaded from a plane at Ben Gurion Airport, December 30, 2021. (Courtesy)

The first shipment of Pfizer’s Paxlovid, a promising pill to treat COVID-19 infections, has landed in Israel.

Israel is one of the first countries in the world to receive the drug, which lab tests have shown to be very effective against the Omicron variant.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett calls the pills’ arrival “an important addition to our toolbox in fighting the pandemic” that “will help us get through the coming apex of the Omicron wave.”

The first shipment consists of several tens of thousands of pills. The medication is said to cost the country around $530 per patient, though it isn’t yet clear what the price will be for Israeli customers.

Paxlovid is designed for at-home treatment of high-risk COVID-infected patients over the age of 12. Pfizer told the FDA that in a 2,250-patient trial, the pill cut hospitalizations and deaths by 89 percent when given to people with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 within three days of symptoms. Fewer than 1% of patients taking the drug were hospitalized and none died at the end of the 30-day study period, compared with 6.5% of patients hospitalized in the group getting a dummy pill, which included nine deaths.

Paxlovid has only proven effective if given within five days of symptoms appearing. The treatment consists of three pills taken twice a day for five days. Two of the pills are Paxlovid and the third is a different antiviral that helps boost levels of the main drug in the body.

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