Pfizer may release an at-home COVID-19 treatment before the holidays

Before 2021 reaches its end, Pfizer may release a pill that can treat early-stage COVID-19 infections at home, according to the company's CEO. The drug will be designed to inhibit the enzyme SARS-CoV-2 needs to infiltrate human cells, though its eventual potential distribution in the US will depend on clinical trials and the FDA.

Pfizer was the first to get FDA authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine in the US; it remains the most commonly administered at this point in time, with the two-dose Moderna regimen coming in second. By the end of the year, assuming everything goes smoothly, the company may also be the first to bring an at-home pill for treating COVID-19 to the US.

That's according to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, who recently detailed the effort in an interview with CNBC. The treatment will come in the form of a protease inhibitor that targets the enzyme viruses like SARS-CoV-2 use to replicate. An early clinical trial involving the drug was launched last month.

The medication, when and if it hits the market, will allow someone who has been recently infected with the novel coronavirus to take a pill by mouth, potentially putting the brakes on the virus's ability to replicate and cause severe infections. This may then decrease the number of people who experience severe outcomes and reduce how many people end up in the hospital.

The drug's potential future launch in the US will depend on the results of clinical trials involving it and the FDA's decision regarding the data and whether it will approve the medication. Assuming the trials go well and the FDA does approve the medication, we may see it available by the time the holidays arrive.