Pfizer CEO Albert Burla told CNBC on Friday that despite the company’s promising data on Covid antiviral oral pills, vaccines and vaccine boosters remain essential in the fight against the virus.
“The fact that we have treatment is not at all a reason to refuse the vaccine, in fact we should take the vaccine. Some will unfortunately get sick, ”Burla told Squawk Box.
Antiviral pills are meant “for people who are already sick. This is for the sick, the goal here is to prevent disease, ”Burla said. He added that this is where Covid booster shots come to the rescue. “Boosters are necessary because without them we will never get out of this vicious circle of disease.”
Some people still experience severe breakthrough infections and symptoms, and this is where Pfizer’s new pill, if approved, will be most useful. “We need to achieve herd immunity,” Burla said.
Pfizer said on Friday that its oral Covid pills, administered in combination with a widely used HIV medication, reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% in high-risk adults who were exposed to the coronavirus. The company’s shares jumped more than 9% in early trading.
The Pfizer nominee is now the second antiviral pill after Merck, showing high efficacy for treating Covid at the first sign of illness. Merck’s shares fell more than 9% on the prospect of competition in the healthcare industry.
If approved by US regulators, these pills are likely to be a game changer in the ongoing global fight against the pandemic. Pfizer plans to submit its data to the FDA “as soon as possible.” Burla told CNBC, “We plan to apply before Thanksgiving.”
The antiviral pill, manufactured by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, was approved by the UK drug regulator on Thursday. Later this month, US regulators installed evaluate Merck’s request for an emergency use of Covid.