The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Pfizer’s oral antiviral drug Paxlovid was “strongly recommended” for patients with non-severe Covid-19 who are at highest risk of developing severe disease and hospitalisation, such as unvaccinated, older, or immunosuppressed patients.

More about the drug

  1. Paxlovid consists of nirmatrelvir tablets and ritonavir tablets, co-packaged for oral use.
  2. It was given emergency use authorization (EUA) by the USFDA in December last year.
  3. Nirmatrelvir inhibits a viral enzyme called protease that is necessary for the virus to replicate itself inside the host cell.
  4. Ritonavir slows down the breakdown of nirmatrelvir in order to help it remain in the body for longer at higher concentrations.
  5. A drug like nirmatrelvir is considered to have an advantage over vaccines because it attacks vulnerability in the virus that does not mutate like spike proteins — which vaccines target — do.
  6. As a result, the medication is seen to be effective against all variants. (The Omicron wave showed that in a very large number of cases, vaccines are unable to prevent infection, even though they do prevent serious illness and deaths.)
  7. Paxlovid is administered as three tabletstwo of nirmatrelvir and one of ritonavir — taken together orally twice daily for five days, that is, a total of 30 tablets. The USFDA authorised Paxlovid for use only up to five consecutive days.