WHO recommended Paxlovid for Covid-19
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
- Paxlovid consists of nirmatrelvir tablets and ritonavir tablets, co-packaged for oral use.
- It was given emergency use authorization (EUA) by the USFDA in December last year.
- Nirmatrelvir inhibits a viral enzyme called protease that is necessary for the virus to replicate itself inside the host cell.
- Ritonavir slows down the breakdown of nirmatrelvir in order to help it remain in the body for longer at higher concentrations.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Paxlovid is administered as three tablets — two 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.