Scientists from the University of California, San Francisco found that an antiviral drug used to treat high-risk COVID-19 patients may also benefit patients with long COVID.
The research is published in Research Square and was conducted by Dr. Michael Peluso et al.
One-third of people infected with the coronavirus is thought to develop symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and brain fog linked to long COVID.
It’s thought that long COVID may be caused by the immune system’s ongoing reaction to the virus that remains in the body after the initial infection phase.
Paxlovid has U.S. Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization to treat COVID-19 patients who are older than 65 or have underlying health conditions such as obesity, diabetes or cancer.
The pill includes the antivirals nirmatrelvir and ritonavir.
Recently, the team has found some success with Paxlovid in treating patients with long COVID. The case reports included three patients in their 40s who had symptoms consistent with long COVID.
In these studies, two started taking Paxlovid weeks after the start of long COVID symptoms, contrary to the emergency authorization conditions.
One was prescribed the antiviral after re-exposure to the virus more than seven weeks after symptom onset, and his health improved to near-normal.
The other patient took Paxlovid about three weeks after symptom onset. She felt less fatigued the day after completing therapy, but still had shortness of breath and muscle pain.
The third patient started taking Paxlovid within 24 hours of the start of COVID-19 symptoms, in line with the emergency use conditions.
His symptoms improved but returned four days after he completed Paxlovid therapy, with fever, runny nose, cough and chest pain. He also had elevated temperature and heart and respiratory rates.
About two weeks later, he developed brain fog, chest soreness, fatigue and discomfort after exertion—symptoms consistent with long COVID.
This suggests that longer courses of Paxlovid may be needed, and giving it too early might not be optimal.
The team says that Paxlovid may benefit patients with long COVID, but there is no way to access the drug unless a doctor is willing to break the rules.
The results need to be confirmed with future stringent studies, the authors emphasized.
If you care about COVID, please read studies about why some people are symptom free, and a new way to prevent many COVID-19 variants.
For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about drug that could save damaged lungs in COVID-19, and results showing herb rosemary could fight COVID-19, Alzheimer’s disease.
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