Paxlovid Study Finds Promising Results For At-Risk Patients
Oral antiviral reduces age 65+ mortality rate by 81%
Paxlovid, Pfizer’s COVID-19 oral antiviral was found to reduce the mortality rate among at-risk patients 65-years and older by 81% in a new Israeli study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. However, the study found no significant value of the drug in patients 64-years and younger.
What does this mean for those under the age of 65? Well, let’s consider the factors. Children, adolescents and younger adults are typically healthier than the at-risk elderly. They have stronger immune systems that adapt and fight better against illness.
But, what about the younger patients that are at-risk? While the Israeli study found no benefit of the drug in younger at-risk patients, there is other research that suggests there is still benefit in taking the drug if eligible.
Note: “other research” has not yet been published in a journal/ official document.
We’re sure you have many questions, so we’ve compiled some helpful answers. Read on to learn more about what Paxlovid is, how it works and key findings from the study.
What is Paxlovid?
Paxlovid is one of two antiviral drugs used to treat COVID-19. It’s important to acknowledge that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Merck’s pill, Lagevrio (molnupiravir), FDA News Release.
According to the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), Lagevrio only has a 30% reduced mortality rate. This is one of the leading factors in the FDA’s decision to not allow pharmacists the ability to prescribe the drug.
Paxlovid (the brand name) is made up of two generic medications, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir. Each three-pill dose contains two pills of nirmatrelvir, which hinders a key enzyme required to make functional virus particles and one pill of ritonavir, which is used to boost levels of antiviral medication. The COVID-19 virus is then released from the cells and unable to enter uninfected cells in the body. This prevents the spread of infection.
How does it work?
The FDA authorized Paxlovid late last year for adults and children aged 12 and older who are considered at-risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19. Risk factors include old age, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer and more. The Israeli study suggests that old age may be a larger factor than originally considered.
Paxlovid is an oral antiviral drug that should be taken as soon as possible after diagnosis of COVID-19 and within five days of the first symptom. Paxlovid is available for patients by prescription only. Prescriptions can be obtained from your healthcare provider or through the Test to Treat program.
About the study
The study was limited due to its design. Instead of enrolling patients in a randomized study with a control group; the standard for medical research, they compiled data from a large Israeli health system, Clalit. The researchers then compared the hospitalization and mortality rates among patients; positive for COVID-19, that took Paxlovid (test group) and those who did not (control group).
The changing nature of the pandemic was reflected in the study. Such as, a majority of people already having some protection against it due to prior infection or vaccination. This greatly reduces the risk of severe infection in younger adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey, 95% of Americans ages 16 and older have acquired some level of immunity against the virus.
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