WHO supports the use of Paxlovid for high-risk COVID-19 patients
Inside the Paxlovid drug production facility in Germany – Photo: REUTERS
In a recommendation on April 22, WHO said that among the drugs to treat COVID-19, Paxlovid was the most effective, according to Reuters news agency. In addition to Paxlovid, other drugs are available such as Molnupiravir from Merck and Gilead’s intravenous drug Remdesivir.
The WHO recommendation is based on a review of 2 trials of Paxlovid in 3,100 patients, which showed that the drug has the ability to reduce hospitalization rates by 85%. For high-risk patients, Paxlovid could reduce hospitalizations by 84 per 1,000 patients.
“These treatments are not a substitute for vaccination. They just provide us with another treatment option for patients at higher risk,” said Janet Diaz, head of clinical management WHO ready, said. Patients at high risk are those with chronic diseases, immunocompromised or unvaccinated individuals.
WHO recommendations only apply to people over 18 years of age, except for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
The WHO also does not recommend the use of Paxlovid for people at low risk because the benefits are not high. For severe cases, the WHO says there isn’t enough data to make a recommendation.
However, WHO expressed concern about the limitation in the use of drugs to treat COVID-19. “Drugs can only be used when the disease is in its early stages,” the WHO said. That means patients have to get tested quickly and get prescriptions from their doctors, which can be impediments in low- and middle-income countries.
For Paxlovid, patients must take the drug within 5 days of the onset of symptoms and the course lasts 5 days. Remdesivir can be used within 7 days of the onset of symptoms.
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