The  company said on Friday , A trial of Pfizer Inc’s experimental antiviral pill for Covid-19 was stopped early after the drug was shown to cut by 89% the chances of hospitalization or death for adults at risk of developing severe disease.

The results appear to surpass those seen with Merck & Co Inc’s pill molnupiravir, which was shown last month to halve the likelihood of dying or being hospitalized for Covid-19 patients also at high risk of serious illness.

The combination treatment, which will have the brand name Paxlovid, consists of three pills given twice daily.The planned analysis of 1,219 patients in Pfizer’s study looked at hospitalizations or deaths among people diagnosed with mild to moderate Covid-19 with at least one risk factor for developing severe disease, such as obesity or older age.

It found that 0.8% of those given Pfizer’s drug within three days of symptom onset were hospitalized and none had died by 28 days after treatment. That compared with a hospitalization rate of 7% for placebo patients. There were also seven deaths in the placebo group.

Infectious disease experts stress that preventing Covid-19 through wide use of vaccines remains the best way to control the pandemic, but only 58% of Americans are fully vaccinated and access in many parts of the world is limited.

Pfizer’s drug, part of a class known as protease inhibitors, is designed to block an enzyme the coronavirus needs in order to multiply.Pfizer is also studying whether its pill could be used by people without risk factors for serious Covid-19 as well as to prevent coronavirus infection in people exposed to the virus.

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