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UPDATE 1-Pfizer now expects to produce 80 mln courses of COVID-19 pill, CEO tells CNBC

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(Adds CNBC interview details, background)

Nov 29 (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc now expects to manufacture 80 million treatment courses of its experimental COVID-19 antiviral drug, up from a previous forecast of 50 million, Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said in a CNBC interview on Monday.

Earlier this month, Pfizer said it expects to manufacture 180,000 treatment courses by the end of this year and at least 50 million courses by the end of next year, including 21 million in the first half of 2022.

"We can right now commit to 80 million doses ... thanks to our manufacturing machine," Bourla told CNBC.

Bourla said he was confident that the drug, with the brand name Paxlovid, would be unaffected by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Adding that the company would know more details about the new variant in the next few weeks.

Pfizer applied for emergency authorization of Paxlovid last week after reporting data showing that it was 89% effective at preventing hospitalization or death in at-risk people. (Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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