The case for testing Pfizer’s Paxlovid for treating lengthy COVID

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  • Two lengthy COVID sufferers recuperate after Paxlovid therapy
  • Unintended effects, issues of safety should be studied

CHICAGO, April 18 (Reuters) – Reviews of two sufferers who discovered reduction from lengthy COVID after taking Pfizer Inc’s (PFE.N) antiviral Paxlovid, together with a researcher who examined it on herself, present intriguing proof for medical trials to assist these affected by the debilitating situation, specialists and advocates say.

The researcher mentioned her persistent fatigue signs, which “felt like a truck hit me,” are gone after taking the two-drug oral remedy.

Lengthy COVID is a looming well being disaster, estimated to have an effect on as much as 30% of individuals contaminated with the coronavirus. It may final for months, leaving many unable to work. Greater than 200 signs have been related to the situation, together with ache, fatigue, mind fog, respiratory problem and exhaustion after minimal quantities of bodily exercise.

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Dr. Steven Deeks, a professor of drugs on the College of California, San Francisco (USSF), and an knowledgeable in HIV remedy analysis, mentioned drug firms are inclined to low cost single-patient case research. However such cases have helped drive HIV remedy analysis, and Deeks thinks these Paxlovid circumstances may do the identical for lengthy COVID.

“This offers actually robust proof that we should be finding out antiviral remedy on this context as quickly as potential,” mentioned Deeks, including that he has heard of yet one more anecdotal case at UCSF through which a protracted COVID affected person’s signs cleared after taking Paxlovid.

Scientists warning that these circumstances are “hypothesis-generating solely” and never proof that the drug brought on reduction of lingering signs. However they lend assist to a number one idea that lengthy COVID could also be brought on by the virus persisting in elements of the physique for months, affecting sufferers’ day by day lives lengthy after acute signs disappear.

The perfect proof thus far comes from a Nationwide Institutes of Well being (NIH) research, at present beneath peer evaluate, through which researchers performed autopsies in 44 individuals who died of COVID-19 or one other trigger however had been contaminated with COVID. They discovered widespread an infection all through the physique, together with within the mind, that may final greater than seven months past the onset of signs.

Paxlovid, which mixes a brand new Pfizer tablet with the outdated antiviral ritonavir, is at present approved to be used within the first days of a COVID an infection to stop extreme illness in high-risk sufferers.

Pfizer spokesman Package Longley mentioned the corporate doesn’t have any lengthy COVID research underway and didn’t touch upon whether or not it could think about them.

The drugmaker has two giant medical trials testing whether or not Paxlovid can stop preliminary COVID an infection. That “could present us with related information to assist inform future research,” Longley mentioned.

Sufferers who’ve been struggling for months are rising pissed off with the dearth of pharmaceutical analysis for his or her situation.

There are at present fewer than 20 medical trials led by particular person researchers or small drugmakers testing remedies for lengthy COVID, solely a handful of which have moved past early phases, a Reuters evaluate discovered. learn extra

Diana Berrent, founding father of grassroots COVID advocacy group Survivor Corps, has been lobbying the Biden Administration to fund giant lengthy COVID medical trials.

“We should not be doing our analysis primarily based on anecdotal studies,” she mentioned. “That is not ok.”


In one of many case studies, printed as a preprint forward of peer evaluate, a beforehand wholesome and vaccinated 47-year-old lady turned contaminated with COVID in the summertime of 2021. Most of her acute signs dissipated inside 48 hours, however she continued to have extreme fatigue, mind fog, exhaustion after train, insomnia, racing heartbeat and physique aches extreme sufficient that she may now not work.

About six months after her preliminary an infection, she was reinfected, probably with COVID, and lots of of her acute signs additionally returned. Her physician prescribed a five-day course of Paxlovid.

On day 3, she observed a fast enchancment of lengthy COVID signs. “She’s again to regular,” mentioned Dr. Linda Geng, co-director of Stanford Well being Care’s lengthy COVID clinic and creator of the case report posted on Analysis Sq..

Within the second case, Lavanya Visvabharathy, 37, an immunologist working at Northwestern Drugs’s lengthy COVID clinic, was contaminated in December 2021.

Her preliminary signs had been delicate, however she later skilled persistent fatigue, complications and sleep disturbances for 4 months after an infection. She additionally stored testing optimistic on fast antigen exams, an indication of viral persistence

Visvabharathy was conscious of the NIH research and the Stanford case, and determined to strive Paxlovid to see if it may clear any lingering virus. Towards the tip of the five-day course, her fatigue and insomnia had improved, and her complications had been much less frequent. Two weeks after therapy ended, her fatigue was gone. “That is 100% mounted,” she mentioned.

However to show Paxlovid offers that form of reduction would require rigorously managed medical trials, Visvabharathy mentioned.

Dr. Igor Koralnik, who heads Northwestern Drugs’s clinic targeted on the neurological results of lengthy COVID, famous the lengthy listing of widely-used drugs which can be affected by ritonavir and mentioned Paxlovid “cannot be used willy nilly.”

“Paxlovid just isn’t a benign remedy,” he mentioned. “There needs to be research.”

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Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen
Modifying by Michele Gershberg and Invoice Berkrot

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

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