China on Saturday said it had given
“conditional” approval for Pfizer’s Covid-19 drug Paxlovid to treat adults
with mild to moderate illness and a high risk of developing severe disease.
The National Medical Products Administration said further research on the
drug needed to be undertaken and submitted to the regulator.
Paxlovid has so far been authorized in several countries including the
United States and Israel, while the European Union has permitted member
states to use it ahead of formal approval as an emergency measure against
Unlike Covid-19 vaccines, the drug does not target the ever-evolving spike
protein that the coronavirus uses to invade cells.
China, where the coronavirus first emerged in late 2019, has not approved
any foreign-made vaccines against Covid-19. The world’s most populous nation
has slowed new cases to a trickle with a strict “zero-Covid” strategy of
targeted lockdowns, travel restrictions and lengthy quarantines.
But Beijing is still fighting several isolated flare-ups, locking down a
southern city earlier this week as case numbers spiked.
The country’s uncompromising approach on the pandemic has led it to hold
the ongoing Winter Olympics in a so-called “closed loop,” preventing
participants from coming into contact with the wider population.
More than 400 cases related to the Games have been confirmed so far,
according to organisers.