Biden administration plans to announce purchase of Pfizer's experimental Covid-19 antiviral pill

The Biden administration plans to purchase 10 million doses of Pfizer's experimental antiviral Covid-19 pill and is finalizing the contract now, according to a source familiar with the plans.

By Kaitlan Collins, CNN

(CNN) -- The Biden administration plans to purchase 10 million doses of Pfizer's experimental antiviral Covid-19 pill and is finalizing the contract now, according to a source familiar with the plans.

The announcement could come as soon as this week.

The administration had initially planned to purchase about 5 million doses, but after seeing Pfizer's data, President Joe Biden wanted to double the order, the source told CNN on Tuesday.

Earlier this month Pfizer announced topline results from its trial saying that an interim analysis -- done before the trial was scheduled to end -- showed an 89% reduction in the risk of hospitalization or death from Covid-19 among people given the drug within the first three days of symptom onset.

The pill is to be administered in combination with an older antiviral drug called ritonavir and is meant to treat mild to moderate Covid-19 in patients at increased risk of hospitalization or death, the company has said.

Pfizer announced earlier Tuesday that it is seeking emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration for the pill and that it signed a licensing agreement to allow for broader global access to it.

"With more than 5 million deaths and countless lives impacted by this devastating disease globally, there is an urgent need for life-saving treatment options. The overwhelming efficacy achieved in our recent clinical study of PAXLOVID, and its potential to help save lives and keep people out of the hospital if authorized, underscores the critical role that oral antiviral therapies could play in the battle against COVID-19," Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, said in a statement.

The pill could prove to be an important tool in the Biden administration's coronavirus response as the US heads into colder months.

New Covid-19 diagnoses are up in about half of US states over the past week, and hospitalizations are up in 11 states.

"I don't know what's going to happen over the next few weeks. But I have a feeling it's not going to be pretty," Michael Osterholm, who heads the center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, recently told CNN.

This story has been updated with additional information Tuesday.

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