NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida doctor discussed two medications for the treatment of the coronavirus that are expected to receive federal approval.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve the pills from Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. as early as Wednesday.

Dr. Kunjana Mavunda with Kidz Medical Services said they could become game changers in the fight against COVID-19.

“I think it is going to be a new tool, a different tool, to help us with the pandemic,” he said.

Both pills are intended for higher-risk people who test positive for COVID-19.

The treatments involve patients taking a series of pills at home over several days.

These at-home treatments could ease the burden on stretched hospitals, with infections expected to soar through the upcoming winter months.

However, doctors warn that for the treatment to be effective, patients will need to catch the infection early.

“You have to start it within 72 hours of any symptoms,” said Mavunda. “Both pills do help prevent hospitalizations and deaths, and they decrease the symptoms, but you can still be sick.”

Pfizer’s pill treatment showed it cut the risk of hospitalization or death by nearly 90% if given within a few days of the first symptoms.

Merck’s pill works similarly, although studies show that pill is less effective. If approved, it would only be available for adults.

“The concern is that currently, the omicron that we have is attacking the younger children, and there is no pill for them,” said Mavunda.

Experts warn that relying too much on them may have some consequences.

“If we abuse the tablets, if we overuse them, it’s possible that the virus can become resistant,” said Mavunda. “With the influenza virus, there’s an antiviral called Tamiflu that has been available for a long time, and about two years ago, there was concern that the flu virus was becoming resistant to Tamiflu.”

The U.S. government has ordered 10 million courses of the Pfizer pill and about 3 million courses of Merck’s ready to go out as soon as they’re approved.

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