SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Some experts in the field of infectious diseases might considering the latest COVID-19 treatment option to be revolutionary.

It’s called Paxlovid and it’s an antiviral pill that was developed by Pfizer to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death for those who test are COVID-19 positive and are considered to be a high risk for progression to a severe case. Those prescribed the pill can take it at home.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the oral antiviral pill for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in patients 12 years of age and older and weighing at least 88 pounds and are considered a high risk.

“I think it is the beginning of a ‘game-changer,’” says Scott Roberts, MD, Yale Medicine infectious diseases specialist. “It’s really our first efficacious oral antiviral pill for this virus. It shows clear benefit, and it really can prevent hospitalization and death in people who are at high risk.”

During a clinical trial, the drug had an 89% reduction in the risk of hospitalization and death. It’s also expected to work against the omicron variant.

Mikael Dolsten, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer and President, Worldwide Research, Development and Medical of Pfizer said they specifically designed PAXLOVID to retain its activity across coronaviruses, as well as current variants of concern with predominantly spike protein mutations.

Health care providers can write those who are COVID-19 and meet the criteria a prescription. Paxlovid can also be gotten directly from a pharmacist, if electronic or printed medical records, including a list of medications already being taken, and blood test results from the last 12 months are available to the pharmacist.

Most people who take Paxlovid should not experience serious side effects, explains Roberts. “Paxlovid is usually very well-tolerated,” he says. 

But people should stop taking Paxlovid and call a health care provider right away if they experience any of the following signs of an allergic reaction:

  • hives
  • trouble swallowing or breathing
  • swelling of the mouth, lips, or face
  • throat tightness
  • hoarseness
  • skin rash

Other possible side effects include:

  • an altered or impaired sense of taste
  • diarrhea
  • increased blood pressure
  • abdominal pain
  • muscle aches
  • nausea
  • feeling generally unwell

The FDA says that anyone who takes Paxlovid should contact their health provider right away if they have any signs and symptoms of liver problems which includes a loss of appetite, yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice), dark-colored urine, pale-colored stools and itchy skin, or stomach-area (abdominal) pain.

A fact sheet on Paxlovid with a full list of known side effects can be found here.