St. Louis, MO—Important new research suggested that Paxlovid can reduce the risk of symptoms of “long COVID” by about 25%.

The study, Nirmatrelvir and the Risk of Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19, was released before peer review on the preprint server medRxiv. It involved more than 56,000 U.S. veterans with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test.

The researchers from Washington University in St. Louis and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) St. Louis Health Care System demonstrated that those patients given the oral antiviral medication Paxlovid in the first 5 days of a COVID-19 infection had a 25% decreased risk of developing 10 of 12 different long-COVID conditions.

Those conditions included:

• Heart disease
• Blood disorders
• Fatigue
• Liver disease
• Kidney disease
• Muscle pain
• Neurocognitive impairment
• Shortness of breath.

The authors advised that the decreased risk of long COVID associated with Paxlovid treatment occurred across the board—whether it was a veteran’s first infection or a reinfection, or whether the patient was unvaccinated, vaccinated, or boosted.

“Paxlovid reduces the risk of severe COVID-19 in the acute phase, and now, we have evidence that it can help reduce the risk of long COVID,” stated Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, chief of research and development at the VA St. Louis Health Care System and clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, who led the study. “This treatment could be an important asset to address the serious issue of long COVID.”

Paxlovid was approved by the FDA in December 2021 for COVID-positive patients at high risk for severe COVID-19. The product is a combination of two medications—nirmatrelvir and ritonavir—and has been shown to lower the risk of hospitalization and death in COVID-19-infected patients.

The results indicated that compared with the control group, “treatment with nirmatrelvir was associated with reduced risk of PASC [post-acute sequelae] (HR 0.74; 95% CI [0.69, 0.81], ARR 2.32 [1.73, 2.91]) including reduced risk of 10 of 12 post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 in the cardiovascular system (dysrhythmia and ischemic heart disease), coagulation and hematologic disorders (deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism), fatigue, liver disease, acute kidney disease, muscle pain, neurocognitive impairment, and shortness of breath. Nirmatrelvir was also associated with reduced risk of post-acute death (HR 0.52 [0.35, 0.77], ARR 0.28 [0.14, 0.41]), and post-acute hospitalization (HR 0.70 [0.61, 0.80], ARR 1.09 [0.72, 1.46]).”

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