Mina described Paxlovid’s 88% efficacy against COVID-related hospitalization and death as an “amazing measure.”
In a study of 2,085 unvaccinated adults with a pre-existing medical condition (or only aged), only 8, or 0.8%, were hospitalized with COVID or died of any cause compared to 66, or 6% of those who took A placebo.
The good news is that Paxlovid appears to hold up in real world settings.
A non-peer-reviewed study of nearly 94,000 elderly or immunocompromised patients in Hong Kong published on May 17 found that people treated with baxlovid had a 21% lower risk of hospitalization.
Another non-peer-reviewed study published on June 1 found that baxiloid was associated with a 67% and 81% reduction in COVID hospital admissions and deaths, respectively, in people 65 and older. (But the benefits have not been seen in younger adults.)
Mina said that although the drug has only been studied in unvaccinated people, there is no reason to believe it won’t work well in vaccinated people.
“People who are vaccinated and who have had an unprecedented infection are like everyone else with a viral infection,” Mina said. “Having a drug that would dramatically reduce virus replication would, by all accounts, reduce hospitalizations and deaths in anyone who becomes infected, regardless of their vaccination status.”
Reflux infections can occur after taking baxlovid
You may have heard that some people who take Baxlovid can have a “rebound infection,” that is, when people who finish five days of Baxlovid treatment test positive again two to eight days after they test negative.
Symptoms may not always recur, but they certainly can, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) health advisory issued May 24.
Case reports so far show that rebound infections after baxlovid are mild and tend to improve or heal within about three days; None of it was severe. The CDC said there is no evidence to suggest that further treatment with either baxlovid or other available treatments is needed.
However, rebound infections can contribute to the further spread of the coronavirus, although the amount is not known. In addition, they are generally uncomfortable, sending people back into isolation for an additional five days recommended in addition to the 10 days of mask wearing after rebound symptoms begin.
There’s still a lot to learn about why a rebound infection occurs, but Mina speculates that Baxilovid treatment isn’t long enough to completely wipe the virus from people’s systems.
“Medication can act as a crutch during an actual infection, so when you stop taking the medication your immune system is surprised as if a new infection is all over the place,” Mina said. “If we leave the drug on for a few more days, it may give the body enough time to kill all the viruses.”
Dr. Albert Ko, RAJ and Indra Nooyi professor of public health at the Yale School of Public Health, told BuzzFeed News that it is possible that a reservoir of the virus somewhere in the body remains unaffected by baxlovid and is causing a recurrence of symptoms and/or positive test results days after the end of the treatment. treatment. This theory may be more likely in people who naturally have higher viral loads.
Mina said health officials would likely consider extending Baxilovid treatment to 8 or 10 days.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that a “brief return of symptoms may be part of the natural history” of coronavirus infection in some people, regardless of treatment with Baxlovid.
Mina said Omicron might also be to blame. Omicron is more infectious and immune evading than Delta, so your immune system will likely have a harder time working with Paxlovid to rid yourself of COVID.
Mina said that people also experience Omicron’s symptoms earlier than previous variants, which means they also start Baxlovid treatment earlier in the course of the infection. So there is a possibility that we may not give our immune systems enough time to develop a robust response to treatment.
The CDC, as well as both Mina and Koo, continue to recommend the use of Baxelovide for people who are not hospitalized and at risk of severe COVID-19.
How does Baxolvid compare to other COVID treatments?
There are a number of treatments for COVID, but whether one is better than the other depends on the patient’s medical needs and history, availability of treatments, and variables prevalent in a particular area.
What is clear, however, is that baxlovid has become the first choice of treatment for many people.
The National Institutes of Health COVID treatment guidelines state that Paxlovid is the treatment of choice for non-hospital patients. Next in line is remdesivir (brand name Veklury), which is given intravenously and has been shown to be 87% effective against COVID hospitalization and death in outpatients who are at high risk of critical illness. Remdesivir may also be used in hospitalized patients.
Another treatment is bebtelovimab, a new monoclonal antibody, that can be given to untreated patients if Paxlovid or remdesivir are not available or if they are not safe for the patient. There are no efficacy data for bebtelovimab yet, but the National Institutes of Health said it is “active” against all Omicron sub variants in laboratory settings.
While you can also take Lagevrio’s other new antiviral pills, studies show they are only 30% effective against COVID-related hospitalization and death, so they should be used as a last resort.
How to get Baxolvid
The Biden administration launched a “Test to Treatment” initiative on March 8 that allows people to get a COVID test at a pharmacy clinic, state health center or long-term care facility and get antivirals like Paxlovid right away if they test positive.
People are only allowed to receive Lagevrio and Paxlovid through the clinics participating in the initiative, and they are free regardless of whether you have insurance or not.
Here you can find locations near you that are part of the Test to Treat initiative.
You can also see your doctor (if you have one) who can prescribe baxlovid, which you can get at your local pharmacy.
Mina said that if you take a quick COVID test at home and come back positive, you can get a free telemedicine visit via eMed, where a medical professional can prescribe treatment. (You must first purchase a quick test from eMed, but the rest is free.)
It wasn’t long ago that supplies of Baxlovid could not meet demand in the United States, but Pfizer officials have ramped up production in recent weeks. Mina said that the initial scarcity prevented many doctors from prescribing the drug, due to the lack of accompanying information on its use. “It has led to a massive misunderstanding of this really powerful drug for months,” he said.
The number of prescriptions for Paxlovid increased from about 64,000 each week at the end of April to about 184,000 per week by the end of May, a spokesperson for Health and Human Services told BuzzFeed News via email.
The spokesperson added that about 300 test sites have been added for treatment since the beginning of May, with a total of about 2,600 sites, which are expected to grow.
Can Baxlovid reduce the likelihood of long-term COVID-19 infection?
Although no data has been collected on whether Palovid can reduce your chances of developing a long-term COVID, both Mina and Ko agree that we should expect that it can.
“We should expect that intensive early treatment to squash the viral load and kill the virus before it truly takes hold of you should completely reduce the long-term symptoms of COVID,” Mina said. “Just the fact that the viral load is kept at a very low number, that alone should really lead to a better outcome in terms of reducing the likelihood of contracting COVID for a long time.”
Koo admits we don’t yet understand the mechanism behind some people’s development of long-standing COVID-19, but knowing the links between the condition and viral load, “it’s very plausible” baxiloids could help on that front.
Does Paxlovid work against the different COVID variants?
The clinical trial that determined Paxlovid’s efficacy was conducted between July and early December, before the most contagious Omicron variant took hold in the United States. This means that what we know about Paxlovid’s antivirus capabilities is based on infections with the now-defunct Delta variant.
But Mina said the truth is that all variants will be and will be susceptible to the drug. This is because it targets a different part of the coronavirus that, at least with respect to Omicron, is not affected by mutations.
It’s so easy to get caught up in noise and hear all the negative things, but at the end of the day, the results of the experiment weren’t wrong,” Mina said. “People are still saving their lives with baxiloids.”
Mina and Koo said this does not mean, however, that future variants cannot develop resistance to the drug, although the CDC noted there is no evidence of this happening.