Pfizer announced Monday that it will begin Phase 2/3 of its oral treatment for COVID-19.
The medication, in pill form, is given to patients at the first sign of potential infection. It’s combined with a low dose of the HIV drug ritonavir.
Pfizer says the antiviral drug is “designed to block the activity of the main protease enzyme that the coronavirus needs to replicate.”
The company said ritonavir slows the body’s metabolism to keep the antiviral drug in the body longer to help combat the virus.
“If successful, we believe this therapy could help stop the virus early – before it has had a chance to replicate extensively – potentially preventing symptomatic disease in those who have been exposed and inhibiting the onset of infection in others,” said Pfizer Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Mikael Dolsten.
Pfizer plans to enroll more than 2,600 people in the study. People will be randomly assigned to receive the medication or a placebo, the company said in a statement.
Pfizer originally set a goal to roll out the antiviral medication by the end of 2021.