Pfizer's COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid
Pfizer's COVID-19 pill, PaxlovidPfizer/Handout via REUTERS

The US government has agreed to pay Pfizer nearly $2 billion for an additional 3.7 million courses of its COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid, the company said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

The new purchase supplements the 20 million courses previously bought by the United States and are planned for delivery by early 2023, Pfizer said in a statement.

The Biden administration had previously agreed to pay around $10.6 billion - roughly $530 per treatment course - for the first 20 million courses it ordered. They are paying around the same amount per course under the new contract.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency authorization to Paxlovid in December of last year, clearing the pill for patients 12 and up with mild to moderate COVID who are most likely to end up hospitalized or not survive.

A month later, US President Joe Biden announced that the federal government is doubling the order for Paxlovid, which has been shown to reduce hospitalizations and severe illness significantly.

The two-drug oral treatment is currently available for free in the United States, where more than 9 million courses have been to delivered to pharmacies and patients have used over 6 million courses of the treatment, according to government data.

Israel’s Health Ministry also approved the Pfizer pill in December of 2021. Other countries that have approved Paxlovid include Canada and Bahrain.