Paxlovid, the Covid-19 treatment made by Pfizer, reduce hospitalization and death rates The new study found older patients during the Omicron surge in Israel earlier this year, but made no difference for patients under 65 at risk of severe disease.
This study is one of the first published trials of the actual effectiveness of Paxlovid on the Omicron variant, which is currently the dominant version of the coronavirus. Pfizer’s tests of Paxlovid were conducted during the Delta variant spike last year and included only unvaccinated individuals.
There have been lingering questions about how effective the drug is for the Omicron variant, and among patients who have been vaccinated or have some immunity from a previous episode of Covid. The drug has been available to Americans since December.
The new study doesn’t address another pressing mystery: how often patients with Covid cases “recover” after taking the drug. Jill Biden, the first lady, came out of quarantine for a second time on Monday after her infection returned following a course of Paxlovid treatment.
On Friday, Dr Ashish Jha, the White House’s Covid-19 response coordinator, said on Twitter that while there is confusion over who should take Paxlovid, the data still indicates it should be used. for anyone age 50 or older as soon as they develop. Covid symptoms, as well as anyone with a health condition that makes them vulnerable to severe illness.
Although the Israeli study found that the drug was not beneficial for adults aged 40 to 64 with underlying health problems, other research has suggested that it may improve outcomes. One study abroad in Hong Konghas not been peer-reviewed or published in a journal, has reported benefits in patients aged 50 to 64 years.
Researchers at the Massachusetts General Brigham health system reported that Paxlovid significantly reduced hospital admissions in patients aged 50 to 64 years, with a marked effect in the unvaccinated and those with fat.
Dr Jha said on Twitter that there was no reason to think the benefits of the drug would only accrue to older or more vulnerable people. He notes that there are few side effects (most notably a metallic taste in the mouth), and there is no shortage of Paxlovid in the United States.
“Of course, a drug that blocks viral replication at age 70 will do the same thing at 60,” Dr. Jha writes. He noted that nearly 200,000 Americans aged 50 to 64 have died from Covid.
Pfizer’s own studies show that Paxlovid reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by 88% in unvaccinated people at high risk of severe Covid-19 disease, as long as the drug is taken within the first five days of treatment. have symptoms.
New research, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows the drug is mostly effective in older Covid patients.
Dr Ronen Arbel, first author of the study and a health outcomes specialist at Clalit Health Services in Tel Aviv, said: “The big story is that it works and saves quite a few lives and hospitalizations. . “It is very important that it is useful for older patients.”
Other authors include Yael Wolff Sagy, Dr. Doron Netzer and Ariel Hammerman, all affiliated with Clalit Health Services, a major healthcare provider in Israel. The researchers looked at the medical records of nearly 110,000 Clalit members who tested positive for Covid between January and March, when the Omicron variant prevailed.
The patients were at least 40 years old and considered at high risk for severe illness. Most were vaccinated, previously infected with Covid, or both. The average age of the patients was 60, and more than half were women.
About 4,000 people have been treated with Paxlovid, and the drug is highly effective when used in people 65 and older, the researchers found.
Of the 42,821 patients 65 years of age or older, 766 non-Paxlovid patients were hospitalized for Covid, while only 11 patients with Paxlovid were hospitalized, a 73% reduction in relative risk.
Mortality was significantly reduced in older patients treated with Paxlovid. Only two of 2,484 treated patients died, compared with 158 of 40,337 untreated patients, a 79% reduction in risk.
However, the drug has little effect in young people, does not significantly reduce mortality or hospitalization, which is as low in this group as in older patients treated.
Dr. Arbel said he and his colleagues had hoped to examine the rebound phenomenon, but the symptom-reported data were not reliable enough to do so.
“I know it’s a big story in the United States, but I’m not sure if anyone died or was hospitalized” after recovering, he said. “It’s almost irrelevant.”
While the drug doesn’t appear to have much of an effect on young and middle-aged people, he said some doctors may still choose to prescribe it to patients under the age of 65.
“For a 62-year-old unvaccinated person with complications, there may be a reason to use the drug,” he said.