On Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) provided a « strong recommendation » for the use of Paxlovid, Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral pills, for high-risk patients. « WHO has made a strong recommendation for nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, sold as Paxlovid, for mild and moderate COVID-19 patients at high risk of hospitalization, calling it the best treatment choice for patients at high risk to date, » said the WHO said in a statement.
The announcement comes after the organization reviewed data from trials that showed oral treatment significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization. Two clinical trials, involving 3,078 patients, found that Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization by 85%.
In the United States, hospital admissions for COVID-19 have fallen: According to the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention (CDC), the current seven-day daily average is 1,580, well below 21,500, which was the peak in mid-January 2022. According to the Commonwealth Fund, COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States have reduced the spread of the virus and the number of deaths, saving an estimated 279,000 lives and averting up to 1.25 million hospitalizations. But for many people who are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, hospitalization is still a reality.
the CDC defines high-risk patients as those who are more likely to develop a serious infection if infected with the virus. This includes people aged 65 and over, pregnant women and immunocompromised people. Immunocompromised people– those with suppressed immunity due to certain health conditions or medications – make up about 3% of the US adult population. The recent WHO review of Paxlovid data also found that when it comes to high-risk patients, Paxlovid has the potential to contribute to 84 fewer hospitalizations per 1,000 patients.
Being fully vaccinated is still considered the best way to fight the virus and reduce your risk of hospitalization. And on Thursday, the WHO rushed to remind the public that the antiviral drug Paxlovid is not meant to fulfill the role of vaccination. “These treatments do not replace vaccination. They just give us another treatment option for infected patients who are at higher risk,” Janet Diaz, head of clinical management at WHO, said in a statement. statement.