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Pfizer says its new Covid-19 pill will cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% when taken with a widely used HIV drug.

Pfizer's antiviral pill is second behind Merck Pharmaceutical, which submitted data for its anti-Covid pill to the FDA last month.

Pfizer's new pill, when taken with the HIV drug, showed strong effectiveness for treating Covid-19 at the first sign of illness in high-risk adults.

Pfizer's pill is part of a class of medicines called protease inhibitors that work by inhibiting an enzyme the virus needs to multiply inside human cells.

The coronavirus enter host cells by binding to ACE2 receptor enzymes in cells. People with higher levels of ACE2 (morbidly obese and HIV patients) are at higher risk for sickness and death.

The HIV drug slows the breakdown of Pfizer's pill so it will remain active in the body for long periods at higher concentrations.

"I think this medicine will change the way things are happening right now that will save millions and millions of lives, it has the potential to do it," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla -- a veterinarian -- told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Pfizer will submit data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) later this month.

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Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.

Merck's new Covid-19 treatment will not be affordable for most Americans.

Merck is reportedly charging 40 times the cost to make the antiviral Covid-19 drug, molnupiravir.

Molnupiravir costs $17.74 to produce - but Merck is charging $712 for a 5-day course of treatment, according to The Intercept.

Molnupiravir, originally developed to treat encephalitis in horses and zebras, was licensed from Emory University in 2020. The worldwide rights were sold to Merck for an undisclosed sum.

The U.S. government reportedly funded development of the drug by Emory University for $10 million between 2013 and 2015.

Merck is expected to earn $7 billion in revenue from the sales of the drug.

According to Quartz, Good government advocates point out that "because federal agencies spent at least $29 million on the drug's development, the government has the obligation to ensure that the medicine is affordable."

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Dr. Dzintars Gotham of King's College Hospital suggested Merck can still turn a decent profit if they priced molnupiravir at $19.99.

"Offering someone a $700 treatment when they don't yet feel that ill is going to mean that a lot of people are not going to take it," he said.

Melissa Barber, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard School of Public Health, said:

"If you can't afford medicine because it's 1,000 times more than you can afford, or because it's 100 times more than you can afford, it doesn't matter. Those are both bad."

Grace Cary / Moment

Pfizer-BioNTech has announced a new oral antiviral treatment for the coronavirus that must be taken twice per day along with the mRNA vaccines.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla announced the new pills in a tweet on Wednesday.

"Success against #COVID19 will likely require both vaccines & treatments. We're pleased to share we've started a Phase 2/3 study of our oral antiviral candidate-specifically designed to combat SARS-CoV-2-in non-hospitalized, low-risk adults."

Pfizer is projected to earn $34 billion in 2021 from sales of its mRNA vaccines.

In a press release this week, Pfizer stated the pills were developed to specifically target SARS-CoV-2 in fully vaccinated, "non-hospitalized, low-risk adults."

Pfizer says the oral protease inhibitor antiviral pills will be "mandated" for all symptomatic adults who are "not at increased risk of progressing to severe illness, which may lead to hospitalization or death."

In other words, the pills will be mandated for adults who have natural immunity and are not likely to get sick if they contract Covid-19.
 

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Doctors in Thailand have seen success in treating the deadly coronavirus with a powerful combination of flu and HIV drugs.

The news comes as the first coronavirus case in Massachusetts was confirmed in Boston on Friday, bringing the total number of cases in the U.S. to 8.

The global death toll has soared to 362 cases with over 17,388 confirmed infections reported worldwide.

Doctors treating a 70-year-old Chinese woman with flu and HIV drugs saw a vast improvement in her symptoms. The doctors from Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok reported zero virus detected in her blood after 48 hours.

The drug treatment includes a mixture of anti-HIV drugs Loinavir and ritonavir, in combination with flu drug oseltamivir in large doses.

"This is not a cure, but the patient's condition has vastly improved. From testing positive for 10 days under our care, after applying this combination of medicine the test result became negative within 48 hours," Dr. Kriangska Atipornwanich told reporters.

"The outlook is good but we still have to do more study to determine that this can be a standard treatment."

The link between HIV and the coronavirus was first reported by Dr. Eric Ding, a visiting health scientist at the Harvard School of Health.

Twitter.com permanently banned Zerohedge.com for publishing a post about Dr. Ding's theory linking HIV to the coronavirus.

Zerohedge.com was supposedly banned for "doxing" a researcher at a level 4 laboratory in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus.

The researcher, Dr. Peng Zhou, studied bats to determine why they are reservoirs for the world's deadliest pathogens yet they don't get sick.

Zerohedge.com questioned whether Dr. Zhou developed a superbug from bat virus or whether one of his bats escaped from his lab, which is located about 4 miles from the fish market linked to the first reported coronavirus death in Wuhan.

Twitter has banned or suspended accounts for promoting the idea that a man-made virus bioweapon is the origin of the Wuhan coronavirus. But Dr. Ding's Twitter account is still active.

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Frank Ocean is catching heat for promoting his new LGBT+ nightclub by selling $60 t-shirts featuring HIV drug PrEP on the front.

The 31-year-old singer launched his first LGBT+ nightclub in New York City called PrEP+, which is named after the antiviral medication taken by MSM - men who have sex with men - to prevent HIV transmission.

The T-shirts went on sale on Ocean's website following Thursday's launch of the PrEP+ club party Ocean hosted in New York City.

Ocean also promoted the sale of the t-shirts on his Twitter page @blondedocean. "Tee's also come in a black colorway," he tweeted.

Critics took issue with the high cost of the cotton t-shirts: $60. An activist with the New York chapter of Act Up, an HIV/AIDS advocacy group, tweeted Saturday that the shirt's price tag is reminiscent of the steep mark-up of the PrEP drug by pharmaceutical company Truvada.

"@actupny

A $60 tee with "PrEP" on it.

Sounds familiar to a pharmaceutical company that marks up the price of PrEP to over $2,000/month while it costs $6 to make a month supply. This is not it Frank."

The activist also suggested Ocean should donate the proceeds for the shirt to HIV/AIDS advocacy groups such as Act Up.

"@actupny

Coulda also been thoughtful if all the funds went to service providers, PrEP navigators, and HIV justice and treatment orgs, but who asked us?"

Others chimed in, asking Ocean if he planned to donate the proceeds to companies that give out PrEP for free.

"@kell_eesi
frank ocean selling shirts that say prep on them for $60 like ummmmm are you using the profits to donate to orgs that give out prep for free???? bc otherwise yikes my dude!"

Another Twitter user wrote:

"But sure, let's have Frank Ocean use a pill millions can't afford to promo new music at a fake queer party and to sell $65 shirts".

Truvada PrEP

A 43-year-old gay man is believed to be the first person to contract HIV while on daily Truvada PrEP antiviral medication.

PrEP stands for "pre-exposure prophylaxis." One pill contains 2 antiviral drugs (tenofovir and emtricitabine) to prevent HIV infection in people who engage in high risk, unprotected sex.

Ideally, men on PrEP prophylaxis therapy should also use condoms.

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HIV baby Once again the media runs with a headline without checking their facts. On Sunday researchers announced a newborn baby had been "cured" of HIV for the first time.

HIV is the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS. The newborn girl acquired the infection from her mother while she was still in the womb.

Normally, pregnant women who test HIV positive are given a cocktail of drugs (antiretroviral therapy) to prevent HIV transmission to their fetus.

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