The United States on Wednesday approved the use of Pfizer’s anti-Covid pill for high-risk patients aged 12 and above to combat the rising cases of coronavirus cases in the country, AFP reported.

The country reported 1.55 lakh cases over the last 24 hours, pushing the daily average to the highest level since July-August, The New York Times reported.

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration authorised the use of the pill, Paxlovid, for treating coronavirus after clinical trial data showed that it reduced the risk of hospitalisations and deaths among high-risk persons by 88%, AFP reported.

High-risk persons includes senior citizens, individuals with conditions like obesity and heart disease, AP reported. The drug is not recommended for patients with severe kidney or liver problems. Children must weigh more than 40 kg to be eligible for the pill.

However, the administration has said the pill should complement rather than replace coronavirus vaccines.

The US government will purchase Paxlovid pills enough to treat 10 million people. They will be provided for free. The administration will pay $500 or Rs 37,717 for each course of Pfizer treatment, which comprises three pills that have to be taken twice a day for five days.

Pfizer said it could produce 80 million courses of Paxlovid next year under contracts with the United Kingdom, Australia and other countries.

President Joe Biden said that the pill was a “significant step forward in our path out of the pandemic”. He added that his administration will ensure equitable distribution among states.