Pfizer Struggled to Recruit for Covid Drug Trial as Cases Soared

Pfizer Inc. is pushing back by months a late-stage study on its lead antiviral treatment for Covid-19 because it couldn’t enroll enough patients at a time when infections are surging.

The giant U.S. drugmaker has been praised for ushering in a successful vaccine in just 10 months, a major feat given vaccines typical take years to develop. But while vaccines are studied in healthy volunteers from the community at large, antiviral treatments must be measured in sick patients, typically in early stages of the disease.

That’s posing a logistical hurdle for Pfizer. Many hospitals, seeing a record rise in U.S. cases, are prioritizing people with severe disease and struggling to put resources into trials, saidAnnaliesa Anderson, chief scientific officer of the bacterial vaccines unit. Pfizer also found patients were reluctant to join the small safety study without assurances that their condition would improve by receiving the infusion.

“You’re in a pandemic, people are desperate for treatments,” Anderson, who leads the company’s Covid-19 antiviral program, said in an interview. “We didn’t expect the study to be so slow.”

274,703 in U.S.Most new cases today 17,​501,​563 Vaccine doses administered in 38 countries

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