The EU's drug watchdog approved Pfizer's coronavirus pill on Thursday, making it the first oral antiviral treatment for the disease to be authorised in Europe.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in a statement it had "recommended authorising Paxlovid for treating COVID-19 in adults who... are at increased risk of the disease becoming severe."

The drug, which comprises two types of tablet, is the first COVID-19 therapy which can be taken at home, and is potentially a huge step towards ending the pandemic. 

Paxlovid has so far been authorized in a handful of countries including the United States, Canada and Israel. The European Union had allowed member states to use it ahead of formal approval as an emergency measure against Omicron.

Unlike vaccines, it does not target the ever-evolving spike protein which the coronavirus uses to invade cells. 

It should therefore in theory be more variant-proof, and the company has said preliminary lab studies have backed up that hypothesis.


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