Researcher: Paxlovid is ‘Game Changer’ in Treatment of COVID-19

Recent research on Paxlovid shows there is “solid data on its effectiveness,” a co-author of the study told HealthLeaders.

Treating COVID-19 patients with Paxlovid significantly reduces hospitalizations and deaths, according to a recent large-scale study by Epic Research.

In the first two months of the coronavirus pandemic, there were no proven therapies for COVID-19. Now, there are several therapies for COVID-19, including Paxlovid, remdesivir, and monoclonal antibodies. Paxlovid received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of COVID-19 in December 2021.

The recent study examined data from more than 560,000 patients who could have been treated with Paxlovid from March 1, 2022, to Aug. 1, 2022. Among these patients, 146,000 received Paxlovid and 421,000 did not receive the oral antiviral medication.

The study features three key findings:

  • Compared to COVID-19 patients who were eligible for Paxlovid but did not receive a prescription, COVID-19 patients who received Paxlovid were about two times less likely to be hospitalized and about four times less likely to die.
  • For fully vaccinated COVID-19 patients over age 50, those who received Paxlovid were about three times less likely to be hospitalized than patients who did not receive Paxlovid.
  • Although the results varied depending on vaccination status, COVID-19 patients aged 40 to 49 were about two times less likely to be hospitalized if they received Paxlovid compared to patients who did not receive Paxlovid.

A co-author of the study told HealthLeaders that Paxlovid is effective at reducing COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

“This study is very important because if we are trying to decrease the number of hospitalizations and deaths Paxlovid makes a big difference. There are still more than 400 COVID deaths per day, which is much higher than many other reasons for death in the country, so we still are looking for significant ways to curb COVID deaths. The fact that Paxlovid can decrease COVID deaths by four-fold is very impressive,” said Jackie Gerhart, MD, vice president of clinical informatics at Epic.

The findings about fully vaccinated COVID-19 patients over 50 break new ground, she said.

“When we were looking at previous findings for Paxlovid, we reviewed some of the data that had been published in Israel. Their numbers did not show a significant difference in hospitalizations in the age 50 to 64 category of vaccinated patients, but our numbers did. That is partly because we had a larger sample size, which allows us to have more power in a study of Paxlovid for different age groups. So, we did find Paxlovid decreased hospitalizations for fully vaccinated patients over 50, and that not only advances the science but also can help those patients as well as providers who are caring for patients in that age group.”

Gerhart said Paxlovid is a “game changer” in the treatment of COVID-19. “We have been trying to find new ways to treat COVID-19 and curb the hospitalizations and deaths. Paxlovid is one more tool in our toolbox we can use that has solid data on its effectiveness.”

Related: NIH: Clinical Trial Shows Remdesivir Improves Coronavirus Outcomes

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders.