- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 18, 2021

President Biden said Thursday the government has purchased 10 million courses of a Pfizer pill to treat COVID-19 but argued that vaccination remains the nation’s “strongest tool” against the pandemic.

Mr. Biden secured a portion of supply as the Food and Drug Administration decides whether to authorize the pills, which are taken with a low dose of ritonavir, an existing drug.

Trials showed patients who received the pills saw an 89% reduction in the risk of hospitalization or death compared to a placebo group.

“My administration is making the necessary preparations now to ensure these treatments will be easily accessible and free,” Mr. Biden said. “This is positive news. This treatment could prove to be another critical tool in our arsenal that will accelerate our path out of the pandemic. But vaccines remain our strongest tool.”

Pfizer’s new drug and another virus-fighting pill from Merck are viewed as an easy-to-administer treatment for COVID-19 with great potential.

However, the availability of promising treatments raises questions about whether vaccine mandates are needed if there is another option for holdouts to survive the disease.

The Biden administration and scientists say vaccines are preferable because they are much cheaper than innovative drugs and it is more efficient to try and stave off disease in the first place.

“My message continues to be: get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe, free, and easily available,” Mr. Biden said. “Don’t wait. Get vaccinated today. I will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure that America has the tools we need to save lives and bring an end to this pandemic.”

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said his company’s drug is a good option for people who fall ill, but he doesn’t want people to view it as an alternative to the shots. Pfizer is a prominent maker of one of the vaccines.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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