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How effective is Paxlovid, the COVID-19 treatment?

There has been a link between the antiviral medicine and rebound cases

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This photo shows vials of the company’s updated COVID-19 vaccine during production in Kalamazoo, Mich.

This photo shows vials of the company’s updated COVID-19 vaccine during production in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Pfizer via Associated Press

The use of the COVID-19 treatment drug Paxlovid surged over the summer, even though there is concern that it can create a rebound infection.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden both tested positive for the virus again after taking Paxlovid.

The medicine is still being investigated and only authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Clinical trials showed that unvaccinated individuals who took Paxlovid were 89% less likely to develop severe illness compared to those participants who received a placebo.

It is used to treat mild-to-moderate coronavirus cases for those 12 years and up. It is also prescribed to those at high risk of hospitalization, per Yale Medicine.

What are the possible side effects of Paxlovid?

A COVID-19 rebound has been linked to the medicine, but experts indicate that this may be the natural course of the virus, with symptoms disappearing and then returning.

COVID-19’s trajectory isn’t linear, Jonathan Li, a Harvard Medical School researcher, told Axios. Li is also the co-author of a pre-print that found high levels of rebound in people who hadn’t been treated with Paxlovid.

“It’s not a purely linear process; it waxes and wanes a little bit,” Li said.

Does Paxlovid work against omicron?

Pfizer conducted three studies that showcased that the drug works against omicron. These studies have not been published or peer-reviewed.

“We specifically designed Paxlovid to retain its activity across coronaviruses, as well as current variants of concern with predominantly spike protein mutations,” said Dr. Mikael Dolsten, the chief scientific officer and president, in a press release from earlier this year.

What are the top omicron symptoms to look out for?

As I previously reported, omicron subvariants have a shorter incubation period, which is why the symptoms may appear earlier.

The most common omicron-related symptoms are:

  • Cough.
  • Fatigue.
  • Congestion.
  • Runny nose.