WATCH: White House says Merck pill is ‘good news,’ vaccine still key

Biden administration officials say a new pill that could provide an easier, effective way to treat COVID 19 is good news, while adding vaccination remains the key to controlling the pandemic.

Watch the press briefing in the player above

Officials at drugmaker Merck say they’ll soon seek regulatory approval for the experimental pill, which reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected with the coronavirus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci calls it “very good news” and Merck’s data on its medicine “impressive.”

READ MORE: Merck says experimental pill cuts worst effects of COVID-19

White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients says vaccination will remain the government’s main strategy for controlling the pandemic.
“We want to prevent infections, not just wait to treat them when they happen,” says Zients at the briefing on Friday.

If it’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the government has contracted to buy 1.7 million doses of Merck’s medication.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, also discussed in Fridays White House COVID briefing that data shows COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations are coming down off their summer peaks.