PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Shannon Bott came down with COVID on Thanksgiving.
“It was just the worst thing I’ve ever felt. I had bronchitis, I had the flu. And it was a lot worse than either. And it took so long, ”she says. “I was definitely extremely sore, feverish, with no energy for almost a month.”
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She wished there had been a pill she could have taken to shorten the illness and make it less severe.
“There was such concern about how that was going to play out. Is it going to get worse? People suddenly go from okay to not okay. To have treatment that alleviated that would have been fantastic, ”she says.
Pfizer is working on it: a pill you would take early after symptoms start, similar to taking Tamiflu for the flu.
“Hopefully this is something we could introduce at the first sign of illness to prevent you from ever having to go to the hospital to ever get into the intensive care unit,” says Dr. Brian Lamb, Internist at Allegheny General Hospital.
Currently available treatments require IV, but this would not be the case.
“This could be a real game changer. It’s as simple as, “I have symptoms, I have positive exposure.” We could consider doing something right away, “he explains.
The drug belongs to a class of drugs called protease inhibitors. They are used for other viral infections such as HIV and hepatitis C. They can be given in combination with other antivirals. The medicine disrupts the enzymes the virus needs to make copies of itself.
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Pfizer started early-stage studies in March.
“We have to make sure that it works on a person and that it is safe for us,” says Dr. Lamb.
Sometimes protease inhibitors affect the digestive system and metabolism, but they are generally well tolerated.
If all goes well with the studies, the drug could get emergency approval by the end of the year.
But Dr. Lamb says you shouldn’t skip your vaccine and rely on this opportunity to save you from COVID.
“We don’t want anyone to put their hopes on something that may not come out,” he says.
If Shannon developed COVID again and this pill was available, she would want it.
“I don’t want to have to go through that again,” she says.
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Having an outpatient option for yourself and your loved ones would give you peace of mind.