China gives ‘conditional’ approval for Pfizer Covid pill

An Israeli health worker administers a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a six-year-old child at Clalit Health Services in Jerusalem on 23 November 2021, as Israel begins coronavirus vaccination campaign for children aged five to 11.

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 the Omicron variant.

Unlike Covid-19 vaccines, the drug does not target the ever-evolving spike protein that the coronavirus uses to invade cells.

Mainland China, where the coronavirus first emerged in late 2019, has not approved any foreign-made vaccines against Covid-19.