UVA Health expert weigh in on Paxlovid’s relationship to “COVID rebound”

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 6:57 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A doctor with the University of Virginia is weighing in on the effectiveness of Paxlovoid, a drug that help treats COVID-19. Doctor Patrick Jackson says the drug is intended to prevent hospitalization.

President Joe Biden and many others used the antiviral medication to help with recovering from COVID-19 before testing positive again. This represents the new idea of “COVID rebound,” which is when a patient’s COVID-19 symptoms go away for a few days then return.

“Part of the issue here is that the concept of rebound has not been kind of clearly defined, and so it’s really difficult to study,” Doctor Patrick Jackson said.

Dr. Jackson studies infectious diseases at UVA Health. He also assisted on the clinical trial team for Paxlovid which is made by Pfizer.

“In their trials of Paxlovid, that rebound occurred in about 2% of patients. I think most people who are actually seeing COVID-19, patients in the outpatient setting think that that number is substantially higher,” Dr. Jackson said.

A prescription for Paxlovoid only lasts for five days, but COVID-19 can last longer than that.

“Two competing thoughts are that Paxlovid is working initially, and then the virus comes back because the course was, you know, not sufficiently long. Versus if this could just be the natural history of COVID-19: Just was what the virus the disease course does,” Jackson said.

The doctor says it is possible we may need a longer course of the drug to eliminate the virus. He says he would want to assist with a trial like that in the future.

“If you want to do another trial to compare five days of Paxlovid versus 10 days of Paxlovid for hospitalization, just going to need to be really tremendous sort of effort. So really expensive, but I think important question,” Jackson said.

He believes the drug is not making COVID-19 worse.

“There’s no evidence or reason to believe that because you got Paxlovid you’re going to have a longer symptoms,” Jackson said.

Dr. Jackson says taking the drug is a conversation for you and your doctor, based on your own health situation. He says the drug is doing what it’s supposed to, which is keeping people out of the hospital who are at high risk.

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