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Pfizer is working on a COVID-19 vaccine pill, too

COVID-19 vaccine pills seem to be the new focus for drug developers

COVID-19 vaccine pills seem to be the new move for drug developers.
Smith’s pharmacist Thuy Holley prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination event at a church in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 20, 2021. Pfizer is reportedly working on a new experimental COVID-19 vaccine pill, the company said this week.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

COVID-19 vaccine developer Pfizer is reportedly working on a new experimental COVID-19 vaccine pill, the company said this week.

Is there a COVID-19 vaccine pill?

Pfizer announced Tuesday it has already started the first phase of trials for the drug PF-07321332 — say that 10 times fast — in the United States.

  • Per The Hill, the drug “is a potent protease inhibitor, the same kind of technology used to treat HIV and hepatitis C. Protease inhibitors bind to a viral enzyme and prevent the virus from replicating in the cell.”

Pfizer said some preclinical studies showed the pill could protect against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and future viruses, too.

  • “Tackling the COVID-19 pandemic requires both prevention via vaccine and targeted treatment for those who contract the virus. Given the way that SARS-CoV-2 is mutating and the continued global impact of COVID-19, it appears likely that it will be critical to have access to therapeutic options both now and beyond the pandemic,” Mikeal Dolsten, Pfizer chief scientific officer, said in a statement.

Is anyone else making a COVID vaccine pill?

Pfizer’s decision comes days after Oravax announced it is working on a COVID-19 vaccine pill, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

According to Business Insider, the Oravax pill will enter the first phase of its clinical trials later in 2021. That would be the first step in determining whether or not the pill can work as a vaccine. Right now, the vaccine is given through an injection in the arm.

  • “There is no guarantee of success, and even if it works it could be a year or more before it is authorized for use,” according to Insider.

Will a vaccine pill work?

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said in an email to Business Insider that there’s no guarantee a vaccine pill would work.

  • “We would need properly conducted studies to prove (oral vaccines’) worth,” he said. “But they may also be of value in people who are severely needle phobic and may be easier and more rapid to administer.”