Pfizer’s antiviral drug Paxlovid reduces long-term COVID risk: study

Pfizer Inc.’s blockbuster antiviral drug Paxlovid that reduces rates of illness and death in people infected with the coronavirus also reduces the risk of certain long COVID disabling symptoms, a study has found.

Taking the drug by mouth within five days of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection was linked to a 26% reduced risk of persistent post-viral complications, health care system researchers said. health of St. Louis Veterans in the study. That equates to 2.3 fewer cases of long-term COVID within three months of infection for every 100 patients treated, according to the results posted on the medRxiv server on Saturday ahead of their publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

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The research, based on an analysis of electronic health records in databases maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs, suggests that wider use of Paxlovid will not just prevent critical illness during the acute phase of illness. infection, but will limit the likelihood of patients suffering longer. – term problems. The long COVID is estimated to affect nearly 150 million people worldwide and cost $3.7 trillion in the United States alone.

The condition is of “deep urgency”, according to Anthony Fauci, US President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser. “It’s a very troublesome virus – not only in its acute effects, but in the potential long-term effects not yet fully appreciated,” Fauci said Sept. 26 in an interview.

No one yet knows what causes the constellation of long-term symptoms that the US National Institutes of Health call post-acute sequelae of COVID-19, or PASC. The NIH is funding a late-stage trial in early 2023 that will test whether Paxlovid, given twice daily for 15 days, can relieve long-lasting COVID symptoms.

Paxlovid is cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of acute COVID-19 disease in people with one or more risk factors for progression to severe disease.

Extended Benefits

The latest study analyzed the electronic health records of users of the VA system, the largest integrated health care system in the United States. The researchers compared 9,217 COVID-19 patients treated with Paxlovid to 47,123 patients who did not receive antiviral therapy or antibodies within the first month of a SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Patients in the study caught COVID-19 in the second quarter of 2022 and were followed through August 31. They were mostly white males, which may limit the generalizability of the study’s findings to other groups, the authors said.

Researchers found that taking Paxlovid for five days at the start of a SARS-CoV-2 infection reduced the risk of certain PASC symptoms, including heart rhythm and blood clotting abnormalities, fatigue, pain muscles, neurocognitive disorders and shortness of breath. Not all long COVID symptoms were averted, and the authors reasoned that different conditions may be driven by different biological mechanisms, some of which are attenuated by antiviral therapy.

It is not yet clear whether longer treatment, a higher dose, or both, can further reduce the risk of COVID in the long term, the authors said.

A five-day course was also associated with a 48% lower risk of death and a 30% lower risk of being hospitalized 30 to 90 days after a positive COVID-19 test.

Benefits were seen in unvaccinated, vaccinated, and boosted people, and in people who were treated for a first or subsequent COVID-19 infection.

Read more:

China reports high COVID-19 numbers for six months as it sticks to strict strategy

US government to test Pfizer’s Paxlovid to treat long COVID

‘No time to relax’ on COVID-19, flu: WHO

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