Pfizer Covid drug Paxlovid could reduce risk of long Covid: study

Pfizer Covid drug Paxlovid could reduce risk of long Covid: study

A prescription for Pfizers Paxlovid tablets outside her apartment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 25, 2022. (Photo by Rachel Wisniewski/For The Washington Post)

Rachel Wisniewski | The Washington Post | Getty Images

People who take PfizerPaxlovid antiviral treatment of Covid soon after infection can reduce their risk of developing long Covid, regardless of their age, vaccination status or history of infection, new research suggests.

The study, published Thursday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, found that people who took Paxlovid within five days of a positive Covid test saw a 26% lower risk of long Covid compared to those who did not. received. More than 35,000 people took the oral Covid pill in the study, while 246,000 did not.

The study only recruited people eligible for Paxlovid under Emergency Use Authorization. This includes adults over 50 or those with an underlying medical condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

The results suggest that the benefits of Paxlovid may go beyond what the drug is designed for, which involves treating adults and children who are at higher risk of ending up in hospital or dying from Covid infection. The drug still demonstrated the expected benefit in the study, reducing the risk of death by 47% and hospitalization by 24% around one month after the initial infection.

The new study comes as researchers struggle to fill the knowledge gap about long Covid, an often debilitating condition with limited data and no proven treatment available.

Long Covid refers to new, recurring or persistent health conditions more than four weeks after an initial Covid infection, according to the Centers for Control and Prevention of Disasters. These problems can include fatigue, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and brain fog, and can last for weeks, months, or even years. The CDC estimates that 1 in 5 Covid survivors aged 18 to 64 and 1 in 4 survivors aged 65 or over have a persistent health condition that could be attributable to a previous infection.

Most of what is known about the long Covid is that some people are more at risk, and the Covid vaccination probably provides a protection against, according to Dr. Jessica Bender, medical co-director of the University of Washington’s COVID-19 Rehabilitation and Recovery Clinic. She called the new study “very exciting and promising” because it is the first to show an association between Paxlovid and a decreased risk of long Covid.

dr. Anita Chopra, a board-certified internal medicine physician who sees patients at a University of Washington primary care medical center, added that prescribers can use the study results to encourage adoption. by Paxlovid. Eligible patients will be more reassured knowing that the drug can lead to a significant reduction in their chances of developing post-Covid disease, she said.

But Chopra acknowledged that the study was observational, meaning the researchers observed participants taking or not taking Paxlovid without intervening. This was not a randomized controlled study – considered the gold standard for clinical research – where researchers step in and can better examine a potential cause and effect relationship between receiving a drug like Paxlovid and an outcome.

Bender stressed the need for a randomized controlled study to “replicate these results.”

She said the other limitation of the study is that it identified participants using the Department of Veterans Affairs health care databases. Researchers need to conduct studies on other patient populations outside of this health care system, according to Bender.

The study comes as Paxlovid moves closer to securing full Food and Drug Administration approval, with agency advisers voting overwhelmingly in favor medication last week. The FDA is expected to issue a decision in May.

More than 12 million courses of Paxlovid have been delivered to pharmacies across the United States, according to the latest federal data. About 8 million Americans have taken the drug, with about 1.3 million doses available at national scale.

Correction: Bender said the study’s other limitation is that it identified participants using the Department of Veterans Affairs health care databases. An earlier version incorrectly included the name of the service and the last name of the doctor.

Pfizer Covid drug Paxlovid could reduce risk of long Covid: study

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