Canada approves Pfizer COVID drug

Canada’s health regulator has approved a pill by Pfizer that treats the effects of COVID-19.

Health Canada authorized Paxlovid for adult patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 who are also at high risk of becoming more seriously ill. Health Canada did not authorize it for use on teenagers or on patients who are already hospitalized because of COVID-19.

Filomena Tassi, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, announced Monday that Canada has received an initial shipment of 30,400 treatment courses of Paxlovid, with 120,000 more epxected by the end of March.

"This announcement marks another important milestone in Canada’s fight against COVID-19. We will always do what is necessary to protect the health and safety of everyone in Canada and ensure access to safe and effective treatments such as Paxlovid," Tassi said.

The agency’s announcement comes amid soaring numbers of infections because of the highly transmissible omicron variant.

Late last month, U.S. health regulators authorized the pill that patients will be able to take at home to ward off the worst effects of the virus. Health officials noted that supply would be an issue early on.

Canada has also secured access to 500,000 courses of Merck’s COVID-19 pill, molnupiravir, with options for up to 500,000 more.