China-Made COVID Antiviral Pill Completes Trial

In a "phase 3" trial conducted in China, a new antiviral pill for the treatment of COVID was found to be as effective as Paxlovid against mild to moderate infection in people determined to be at high risk of severe disease.

China-Made COVID Antiviral Pill Completes Trial
Image credit: Reuters

Facts

  • In a "phase 3" trial conducted in China, a new antiviral pill for the treatment of COVID was found to be as effective as Paxlovid against mild to moderate infection in people determined to be at high risk of severe disease.
  • According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, patients who took the pill, known as "VV116," recovered on average one day faster (for a total of four days) when compared to those who took Paxlovid. The researchers also found a lower incidence of adverse effects with the VV116 group compared to the Paxlovid group.
  • The efficacy of VV116 in reducing severe symptoms, hospitalization, or death among high-risk, unvaccinated individuals has not yet been determined.
  • A standard "phase 3" drug trial typically includes as many as 3K people, though the Paxlovid late-stage trial had 2.2K participants. The VV116 trial was significantly less, with only 380 people taking the medication for five days with a similarly sized group taking Paxlovid instead.

Sources: NBC, Scmp, and US News.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by CNA. China is facing a staggering COVID surge with the rollback of its zero-COVID policy. As cases and deaths increase, this new anti-viral drug will be very helpful, especially as the country experiences a shortage of Paxlovid and other COVID-specific medications.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Stat. While VV116 may seem like a promising alternative to Paxlovid, it has not been studied enough. The clinical trials involved too small of a control group, and the results were not clear enough for many authorities and regulators to want to approve or manufacture the drug. It's too early to tell if the new treatment will be able to help China's roiling COVID surge.