You are here

Our recent press release "Pfizer Advances Battle Against COVID-19 on Multiple Fronts" referenced several important terms and initiatives, and we thought you might want more information. The following is a brief series of questions and answers around these key concepts:

What is an antiviral drug?

Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that are used to treat infections caused by viruses.1

How is an antiviral drug different from a vaccine?

Antiviral drugs kill viruses. Vaccines prevent diseases.

Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, an inhaled powder, or an intravenous solution) used to treat infections caused by viruses. An antiviral drug is not a replacement for a vaccine.2

Vaccines are designed to prevent disease. A vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies - exactly like it would be if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first.3

What is a protease inhibitor?

Protease inhibitors are a class of antiviral drugs. Protease inhibitors can block a virus from making copies of itself.

Why are we researching antiviral drugs?

Pfizer scientists are working to revive a compound that they identified in 2003 as a potential treatment for the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in China. Scientists are hopeful that the SARS protease inhibitor will be effective against the current novel coronavirus, because the two viruses have very similar protein-cutting enzymes where the drug binds.

How is this effort different from normal drug development?

This pursuit requires a crucial multi-pronged approach with a deep collaboration and partnership across the health innovation ecosystem – from the academic community, industry partners, policymakers and regulatory bodies. We announced in March that we are collaborating with BioNTech to co-develop a potential first-in-class, mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. A public threat like coronavirus COVID-19 pushes each of us to urgently bring forward our resources and expertise to overcome this most challenging moment in the medical history of this century.

Sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/treatment/whatyoushould.htm
  2. https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/contentfiles/glossaryhivrelatedterms_english.pdf
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/vpd-vac-basics.html