According to a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the antiviral medication Paxlovid appears to lower the risk of dying from COVID-19 by 79% and decrease hospitalizations by 73% in at-risk patients who are 65 and older.
The FDA granted emergency use authorisation for the tablet, which contains the medications nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, in December 2021 to treat mild to moderate disease in people aged 12 and older who are at a high risk of developing severe COVID-19, hospitalisation, and death.
According to Doron Netzer, MD, the senior study author and a researcher with Clalit Health Services in Tel Aviv, Israel, “the results of the study reveal indisputably that therapy with Paxlovid considerably reduces the risk of hospitalisation and death from COVID-19,” he told The Jerusalem Post.
He claimed, “We are the nation’s leader in the provision of giving Paxlovid to appropriate patients. Medical teams watched over the patients who took the pills as they were distributed to patients around the nation.
According to the news source, the study is one of the most comprehensive ones about Paxlovid’s efficacy that has been released to yet. Information from Clalit’s electronic medical records was evaluated by the research team. About 52% of Israelis are covered by the healthcare system, including nearly two-thirds of senior citizens. Over 30,000 COVID-19 patients have received treatment with the medication in Israel so far.
Between January 9 and March 31, when the original Omicron variation was the predominate strain in Israel, Netzer and colleagues examined hospitalisation and death data for at-risk COVID-19 patients aged 40 and older. More over 1.1 million Clalit patients contracted COVID-19 at that time, 109,000 individuals were deemed at risk, and 3,900 patients received the medication.
The patients’ average age was 60, and 39% of them were 65 or older. In total, 78% of the patients had COVID-19 immunity in the past via immunisation, an earlier infection, or both.
The rate of COVID-19 hospitalisation among adults 65 and older was 14.7 instances per 100,000 person-days among those who received treatment, versus 58.9 cases per 100,000 person-days among those who did not. This meant that the likelihood of getting hospitalised was reduced by 73%.
The rate of COVID-19-related hospitalisation among patients aged 40 to 64 who received treatment was 15.2 instances per 100,000 person-days, compared to 15.8 cases per 100,000 person-days among patients who did not receive treatment. For this age group, the likelihood of hospitalisation wasn’t noticeably decreased.
In 2,484 treated patients aged 65 and older, there were two deaths from COVID-19, compared to 158 in the 40,337 untreated patients. This resulted in a 79% decreased likelihood of passing away from COVID-19.
One COVID-19 death occurred in 1,418 treated patients between the ages of 40 and 64, compared to 16 in 65,015 untreated patients. For this age group, the chance of mortality wasn’t noticeably decreased.
The two factors that were most strongly associated with high rates of hospitalisation during the Omicron wave for both age groups were a lack of prior COVID-19 immunity and a prior hospitalisation.
The researchers pointed out that they did not separate the data on people aged 40 to 64 with cancer and other severe illnesses that impair immunity. They claimed that although additional research is required, these patients may be more likely to gain from Paxlovid.
The authors said that neither monetary nor in-kind support was given to the study.