Africa has entered the race to get Pfizer's COVID-19 pills

The antiviral pill developed by Pfizer was approximately 90% successful in reducing hospitalizations and fatalities.

Africa's leading public health body said it was in talks with Pfizer about getting supply of its antiviral COVID-19 pills for the continent, making it the latest to jump into the race for a drug that might be a game changer in the fight against the virus. According to Pfizer, the Paxlovid medication was nearly 90% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths, and data suggests it is still effective against the Omicron variant. "We are in really close discussions with Pfizer to see what can be done to make the drugs available on the continent and accessible on the continent, that is, the Paxlovid drugs," said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Paxlovid is in high demand from governments around the world, while Merck's Molnupiravir has suffered obstacles following disappointing trial results. While vaccines have been governments' major weapon against COVID-19, there is hope that Merck and Pfizer's experimental pills, which may be administered at home rather than in hospitals or medical settings, would help reduce the number of people dying or are hospitalized. Obtaining supplies of COVID-19 drugs, together with ramping up vaccinations and testing, is one of three important measures for tackling the pandemic in Africa in 2022, according to Nkengasong. Since the start of the pandemic, Africa has officially recorded just over 10 million cases of COVID-19, while the true figure is likely far higher due to inconsistent testing.