Home Health Can Paxlovid Deal with the Signs of Lengthy COVID?

Can Paxlovid Deal with the Signs of Lengthy COVID?

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Months after catching COVID-19 in December 2021, Lavanya Visvabharathy was nonetheless testing positive on antigen tests and affected by signs together with complications and intense fatigue. So Visvabharathy, a analysis assistant professor of neurology on the Northwestern College Feinberg College of Drugs who has studied Lengthy COVID since 2020, determined to conduct an experiment on herself.

She requested her physician to prescribe her Paxlovid, an antiviral remedy that may deal with COVID-19 by inhibiting replication of the virus that causes it. Paxlovid is supposed to keep high-risk patients with acute COVID-19 from developing severe disease, however Visvabharathy thought it may need one other use. Since she was nonetheless testing constructive months after getting contaminated, Visvabharathy had a hunch—based mostly on her analysis—that items of that virus have been nonetheless in her system. She hoped Paxlovid might clear away these remnants of SARS-CoV-2 and ease her Lengthy COVID signs.

The outcomes of her experiment, which she revealed as a case report in Frontiers in Drugs in September, have been blended. A typical five-day course of Paxlovid initially eased her signs, and she or he started testing damaging. However a few month after taking the antiviral, she began testing constructive once more, and her complications got here again. Visvabharathy, who has the autoimmune situation rheumatoid arthritis, quickly stopped taking her biologic immunosuppressant to see if that might assist clear the virus from her system—however when she did, her signs worsened and she or he developed intense mind fog for the primary time. When she resumed taking her arthritis drug, the mind fog went away and her different signs improved.

At the moment, after enduring about 9 months of Long COVID symptoms, Visvabharathy is lastly freed from them. However did Paxlovid play a job in her restoration? That’s the million-dollar query.

Learn Extra: You Could Have Long COVID and Not Even Know It

Researchers don’t fully understand why some people develop long-lasting symptoms after a case of COVID-19, however one of many main theories is that remnants of the virus linger in some folks’s our bodies, inflicting lasting points starting from excessive fatigue to continual ache and neurological issues. If that’s the case, it’s logical to assume—as Visvabharathy did—that an antiviral like Paxlovid might wipe out these cussed fragments and clear up signs.

There’s already some proof that individuals who take Paxlovid shortly after getting contaminated have decrease odds of creating Lengthy COVID. One study posted on-line in November, which has but to be peer-reviewed, in contrast folks susceptible to extreme COVID-19 who took Paxlovid inside 5 days of testing constructive with COVID-19 sufferers of comparable danger profiles who didn’t take the drug. Those that took Paxlovid have been about 26% much less prone to report Lengthy COVID signs 90 days later, the researchers discovered.

Individuals who survive extreme instances of COVID-19 are at increased risk of developing Long COVID, so it is smart {that a} drug that lessens the illness’s severity would additionally shrink the chance of long-term problems. Whether or not it might reverse lingering signs amongst individuals who have already got them, nevertheless, is a separate query—and one to which patients and advocates from the Long COVID community demand an answer.

Till just lately, analysis on Paxlovid as a remedy for Lengthy COVID was restricted to small case research like Visvabharathy’s. (For the file, Visvabharathy doesn’t suggest that different Lengthy COVID sufferers comply with in her footsteps by DIYing remedy; she recommends consulting a health care provider first.) Another case report, revealed within the journal Pathogens and Immunity in June, discovered that three sufferers reported enhancements of their post-COVID signs after taking Paxlovid wherever from a number of weeks to greater than two years after their signs started. The one that took Paxlovid after two years of Lengthy COVID signs did so after getting reinfected and noticed “substantial enchancment,” based on the report.

Learn Extra: First Real-World Data Show That the Bivalent Booster Is Effective

Dr. Upinder Singh, a professor of infectious illness at Stanford Drugs, calls such outcomes “titillating,” however says bigger research are wanted to make any agency conclusions about Paxlovid’s function in treating Lengthy COVID. Singh’s analysis crew is recruiting 200 folks with average or extreme Lengthy COVID signs, a few of whom will obtain a placebo and a few of whom shall be handled with Paxlovid for 15 days—the longest period of time the drug has been confirmed to be secure to take. Each teams will then be tracked for 4 months to measure modifications of their signs over time, Singh explains. Her group has already begun enrolling sufferers, however they don’t have outcomes to share but.

A analysis crew at Duke College may even study Paxlovid’s potential role as a Long COVID therapy via the Nationwide Institutes of Well being’s RECOVER trial, a wide-ranging initiative to higher perceive Lengthy COVID. Duke’s analysis crew goals to enroll 1,700 folks and examine outcomes amongst those that take Paxlovid for 15 days versus a placebo.

If massive research present that folks’s signs enhance after taking Paxlovid, it is not going to solely level to a promising remedy possibility, but in addition add help to the concept that Lengthy COVID is attributable to items of the virus lingering within the physique, Singh says—a probably essential step on the street to understanding COVID-19’s long-term results.

“As a doctor, I need a resolution to offer to my sufferers,” Singh says. “As a scientist, I simply need a solution.”

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Write to Jamie Ducharme at jamie.ducharme@time.com.

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