Antiviral drug, paxlovid, significantly reduced the likelihood of hospitalisation or death from COVID-19 in people at risk of severe illness during the Omicron wave, according to a study.
The research, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of paxlovid, a combination of nirmatrelvir and ritonavir drugs, in preventing severe illness during the emergence of the Omicron variant.
The researchers from Public Health Ontario looked at data on adults with mild disease in Ontario, Canada who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test between April 4 and August 31, 2022.
They compared 8,876 patients treated with nirmatrelvir–ritonavir with 1,68, 669 who were not treated. Most patients were older than 70 years, were vaccinated and had potential drug–drug interactions.
A previous randomised controlled trial conducted before the emergence of the Omicron variant had found nirmatrelvir–ritonavir to be effective at treating patients.
However, that trial did not include people who had been vaccinated or who had potential drug–drug interactions.
“Our study, in conjunction with previous clinical trials and observational research, supports the effectiveness of nirmatrelvir–ritonavir at reducing hospital admission from COVID-19 and all-cause death,” said study lead author Kevin Schwartz from Public Health Ontario.
The researchers found that for every 62 people treated with nirmatrelvir–ritonavir, the medication prevented one case of severe COVID-19.
“This study highlights the importance of testing for SARS-CoV-2 if you have symptoms, and access to Paxlovid for those at risk for severe COVID-19,” Schwartz said.
“If you test positive for COVID-19, are over 60 years of age, or if you have other risk factors for severe infection, such as chronic medical conditions or are undervaccinated, contact your health care provider or pharmacy within 5 days of symptoms starting and ask about Paxlovid,” the scientist added.
(edits by EP News Bureau)