Commentary: Why new COVID-19 antiviral pills are badly needed

Commentary: Why new COVID-19 antiviral pills are badly needed

5/12/2021 1:04:00 AM

Commentary: Why new COVID-19 antiviral pills are badly needed

COVID-19 pills are crucial for the treatment of patients, especially for those at high risk in the early stages of infection, says a US infectious disease professor.

There are currently two primary forms of treatment for COVID-19 in the US: Antiviral and anti-inflammatory medications.Antiviral drugs stop the virus from growing in the body and are given within the first few days of symptoms to prevent severe disease.

Anti-inflammatory drugs moderate the immune response and are used to help sicker patients who need oxygen.Molnupiravir and Paxlovid were studied in separate clinical trials with similar designs. In both studies, the drugs were tested in outpatients with risk factors for severe COVID-19 who were at an early stage in their illness.

Both studies also looked at how likely patients were to either die or be hospitalised. However, neither study has yet been peer-reviewed.Molnupiravir reduced the risk of death or hospitalisation by about 50 per cent in non-hospitalised adult patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 when treated within five days of symptom onset.

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Paxlovid reduced this risk by about 89 per cent for patients treated within three days of symptoms and 85 per cent for patients treated within five days. Importantly, no patients who took either drug died in the studies.Because the drugs were not studied head to head, it's difficult to say whether one will be better than the other in the real world. In early November, Britain became the first country to approve molnupiravir for use.

FILE - A nurse gives a shot of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine developed by Beijing Institute of Biological Products Co. Ltd. to an airport worker at a health station in Nantong in east China's Jiangsu province on Jan. 29, 2021. (Chinatopix via AP, File)

Molnupiravir did not help hospitalised patients recover faster from COVID-19. It is likely that Paxlovid would also not be useful at the point of hospitalisation.Most patients who are in the hospital with COVID-19 are sick because of unregulated inflammation and not because the virus is still replicating in their bodies.

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If and when these drugs get authorised in the US, they will probably be used for the same higher-risk patients who are eligible for monoclonal antibodies today.Monoclonal antibodies may still be used, though, for pregnant people, people on dialysis and some immune-compromised patients.

The US has already purchased millions of doses of both molnupiravir and Paxlovid in anticipation of their authorisation.However, the pills will only be useful if people also have access to cheap, fast and accurate COVID-19 tests, which are currently in short supply.

If COVID-19 is diagnosed too late, patients will already be outside the window of time when antiviral drugs can be helpful.Other antiviral drugs are in development, including an oral form of the first COVID-19 drug, remdesivir and long acting injectable monoclonal antibodies.

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Researchers are also working on repurposing existing drugs to treat COVID-19. Inhaled steroids like budesonide and an antidepressant called fluvoxamine are particularly promising.While it's exciting to see new treatments for COVID-19, prevention is still the best strategy. The COVID-19 vaccines continue to be the most effective tool for helping to end the pandemic.

Read more: CNA »

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Quoted, 'Nearly two years into the pandemic, it has become starkly clear we need better treatments for COVID-19 for people in the earlier stages of disease.' Wow. Va-ccine/Booster dont work by them. Now Anti-viral pills by them will work? EXPERTS follow blindly and get paid.