Within a few weeks, perhaps before many Americans finish decorating for the holidays, the U.S. could have access to a new antiviral pill from Merck expected to alter the deadly trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic—with a second option from Pfizer to follow shortly after.

Now under federal review, both pills are being hailed by infectious-disease doctors not prone to superlatives.

“This is truly a game changer,” said Dr. Daniel Griffin, an expert on infectious diseases and immunology at Columbia University. “This is up there with vaccines. It’s not a substitute for vaccines; we still want to get people vaccinated. But, boy, this is just another great tool to have.”

The new regimens, which require 30 or 40 pills to be taken over five days, have been shown to dramatically reduce hospitalizations and prevent deaths in adults with mild to moderate COVID who are at risk for severe disease because of age or underlying conditions. But experts say the success of the treatments would hinge on one uncertain factor: whether high-risk patients infected with COVID will be able to get tested—and then treated—fast enough to make a difference. Head over to Kaiser Health News to read the full story.