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Why pills for COVID-19 could help in ending the pandemic

They could eliminate certain obstacles for hospitals overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

HOUSTON — When the COVID vaccines were rolled out many people hoped that would be the end of the pandemic. But because of vaccine hesitancy and the highly contagious delta variant, COVID continues to linger.

Now we are seeing cases slowly increase in the United States, mostly in cold weather states where people are now gathering inside. There could be hope on the horizon though thanks to pills that could be successful treatments for the virus.

Limitations with current treatments

To understand why pills are such a big deal you have to look at the treatments we have right now. One of the most successful, monoclonal antibodies, is given either as an IV infusion or a series of four shots done in a medical setting. Research shows it is effective at preventive hospitalization and death, but it must be administered early on in the infection.

Pill treatments bring new hope

Merck has submitted data to the FDA showing a pill it had developed to fight the flu reduced COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths by about half. Pfizer also just announced a pill it developed reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by nearly 90%. 

Both can be potentially taken at home, reducing the strain on the hospital system. While all this offers hope that the end of the pandemic could be in sight, experts still stress the best way to end it is to get vaccinated.

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