By Shira Hanau
Israel’s government reached an agreement to buy tens of thousands of doses of Pfizer’s experimental new antiviral pill to fight COVID-19.
The pharmaceutical company says the pill slashes the risk of hospitalization or death from the virus by 89%.
The news was first reported on Saturday by Israel’s Channel 12 news station, according to The Times of Israel.
President Biden has said the U.S. has also secured millions of doses of the Pfizer pill, along with over $1 billion in doses of a pill manufactured by the drug company Merck. The pills are not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration but could be before the end of 2021.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the company is in talks with 90 countries about the drug.
“If the drug is approved for use it will be another significant tool in managing the pandemic, together with vaccines for everyone and accessible tests for everyone, all the time,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet said in a cabinet meeting Nov. 7, The Times of Israel reported.
Pfizer’s pill, called Paxlovid, and Merck’s pill, called Molnupiravir, both work to stop the COVID-19 virus from replicating throughout the body.
The announcement comes days after Israel approved Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. Inoculations for children are expected to begin in the next several days.
Israel was among the first countries to purchase Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine late last year.