Health Canada on Jan. 17 approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral pill for adults who are at high risk of progressing to serious disease.
The Canadian health authority announced that it approved the oral drug known as Paxlovid after an “expedited review,” which found that its benefits outweigh the risks.
The pill is the first COVID-19 therapy that can be taken at home and is intended for use as soon as after diagnosis and within five days of the start of symptoms, Health Canada said.
Health Canada said that it will continue to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the pill.
Health Canada also noted that the pill is not a substitute for vaccination.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told reporters that the approval of the pill was “great news.”
The approval comes as Canada struggles to contain the highly contagious Omicron variant.
“I think Canadians should be very happy today to hear that oral antivirals are beginning to become available in Canada,” Tam said.
The government also announced that it has received an initial shipment of 30,400 treatment courses of Paxlovid, with 120,000 more expected to arrive between now and the end of March, as part of a deal in which Canada secured on million treatment courses.
The government said that it is working with provinces and territories to begin the distribution of the pills “imminently.”
“Delivery schedules are being finalized, with the intent of bringing additional treatment courses to Canada as quickly as possible,” the government said.
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