People in the United States can now take the COVID-19 pill from Pfizer at home. People who take COVID-19, an antiviral pill, can take it at home, making it the first at-home treatment for the coronavirus that could be very important in the fight against the Omicron variant.

Data from Pfizer’s clinical study showed that its antiviral regimen was 90% effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths in people who were at high risk of getting very sick. Recent lab data shows that the drug still works against Omicron.

Agency: The drug can be taken by mouth to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and children 12 years of age and older who weigh at least 40 kilogrammes, or about 88 pounds, and who are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19.

In a statement, the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said this: “This authorization gives us another weapon in the fight against COVID-19 at a critical time in the pandemic as new variants emerge. It also promises to make antiviral treatment more accessible to patients who are at high risk of progressing to severe COVID-19 pill.”

COVID-19 patients should start taking the drug as soon as possible after they get the disease and within five days of their first symptoms, the CDC says. The drug can only be bought with a doctor’s permission.

People at the company said they were ready to start shipping right away in the US, and they said they were going to make 120 million courses of treatment instead of 80 million in 2022.

Pfizer’s drug costs $530 for each course that the US government buys for 10 million people.

Taken with the older antiviral drug, ritonavir, the Pfizer pills will be called Paxlovid. They will be sold under that name. When the symptoms start, the pills should be taken every 12 hours for five days.

There are a lot of prescription medicines that Ritonavir is known to have an effect on. If that’s the case, Pfizer says it should be manageable. Most people should be able to lower the dose of their other medications while taking COVID-19 pill, they say.

It says it plans to submit a new drug application to the FDA in 2022, which could lead to full FDA approval.

A pill from Merck & Co, which is being looked at by the FDA, doesn’t work as well as Pfizer’s treatment. Merck’s drug, molnupiravir, cut the number of people who needed to be hospitalised or died by about 30 percent in a clinical study.