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'It's exactly what we need': UH Chief Scientific Officer says Pfizer's COVID-19 pill a 'game changer' for hospitals

Some experts say Paxlovid is as effective as monoclonal antibodies, which requires an infusion.

CLEVELAND — The Biden administration plans to double the U.S. government's order for Pfizer's antiviral COVID-19 pill, with the new shipment set up for 20 million treatment courses. 

President Joe Biden made the announcement ahead of a meeting with the White House COVID-19 task force Tuesday afternoon to get an update on the omicron variant's impact on the U.S. 

"They're a game changer, and have the potential to dramatically alter the impact of COVID-19," Biden said.

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The president added an estimated 4 million doses of Paxlovid are expected to ship throughout the country by end of the month. University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center tells 3News, they have several doses of the scarce drug. 

"We received, just today, 120 courses of treatment for Paxlovid," Dr. Daniel Simon, UH's Chief Scientific Officer, confirmed. "Just as Tamiflu is a game changer for individuals for flu, this should be the same. Paxlovid has been shown to reduce severe disease, hospitalization and death by 90%."

Simon says Paxlovid is an oral drug used over the course of five days. The pill would be taken twice a day for treatment, and the hope is coronavirus patients will be able to pick it up at any pharmacy in the country.

Some experts say Paxlovid is as effective as monoclonal antibodies, which requires an infusion. The cost of the drug is $700, but would be covered by the federal government.  

"It's exactly what we need," Simon said. "We are incredibly optimistic about the potential of Pfizer and Paxlovid to change the course of the pandemic."