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Pfizer to test COVID pill in children as vaccinations in US plateau

March 13, 2022
Life sciences

As the U.S. and the world move toward a less restrictive future living with COVID-19, treatment is likely to play a large role. A new Biden administration initiative aims to create locations where people could get tested for the virus, then be assessed by a healthcare provider and given a prescription for an antiviral medicine such as Pfizer’s Paxlovid.

Wider availability of treatments will also be critical as vaccinations plateau. After an initial spike when Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine became available for children as young as 5 last fall, vaccination rates began to slow. Only about 26% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 are now fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Children younger than 5 so far have no options for vaccination. Pfizer and partner BioNTech found that their initial two-dose vaccine for that age group wasn’t effective enough and began testing a third dose. The companies briefly intended to try to win approval for the first two doses while continuing research but gave up on that plan last month.

At the same time, opponents of vaccination are gaining ground in some places. Florida’s health officials recently recommended that healthy children not get vaccinated against COVID-19, contradicting CDC guidance and research that shows the shots are safe and effective.

Pfizer has been working to expand production of Paxlovid to meet anticipated demand. The company expects the pill to bring in sales of $22 billion this year, a figure that would put it among the world’s top-selling medicines, perhaps second only to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer last month estimated that the vaccine’s revenue would reach $32 billion this year. READ MORE

By Kristin Jensen


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