Daily pill to treat COVID could arrive by late fall: Scientists

Medicine pills are seen with Pfizer logo in this illustration photo taken in Tehatta, West Bengal, India on 29 April 2021. New York-based Pharmaceutical Pfizer Inc. said that an oral drug for treating COVID-19 could be available by end of 2021. (Phot

A new pill to help treat COVID could be just months away.

The PBS NewsHour reports that scientists are working on creating a short-term regiment of daily pills, taken orally, that can help fight the virus soon after diagnosis and could possibly prevent symptoms from becoming worse after being exposed.

"Oral antivirals have the potential to not only curtail the duration of one’s COVID-19 syndrome, but also have the potential to limit transmission to people in your household if you are sick," said Timothy Sheahan, a virologist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

According to Carl Dieffenbach, director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at least three promising antivirals for COVID are being tested in clinical trials, with results expected as soon as late fall or winter. 

"I think that we will have answers as to what these pills are capable of within the next several months," Dieffenbach said.

The pills work by interfering with the virus's ability to replicate in human cells, shortening the time a patient is infected and preventing the kind of dangerous immune response that can cause serious illness or death. 

However, scientists do emphasize that antiviral pills are not a substitute for vaccination, which is still the most effective method for helping protect against severe disease and death from variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Get breaking news alerts in the free FOX5NY News app!  |  Sign up for FOX 5 email newsletters