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President Biden started taking a course from Paxlovid, after testing positive for COVID-19. The antiviral drug is recommended for early treatment by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Paxlovid, which combines two different antiviral drugs, has been shown to be very effective in reducing the risk of hospitalization and death in COVID-19 patients with mild or moderate symptoms. It is linked to faster recovery and a return to good health. But in some cases, patients report a “Paxlovid rebound” in which the disease returns.
What kind of diet is the president on?
Paxlovid comes in pill form, unlike remdesivir, the intravenous antiviral drug former President Trump received when he contracted COVID-19 and was treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The standard Paxlovid regimen is to take three tablets twice a day, for five days. It is not authorized for prolonged use. The FDA recommends the drug for people with mild to moderate coronavirus cases who “are at high risk of progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death.”
Early symptoms for Biden, 79, included “an occasional dry cough,” as well as a runny nose and fatigue, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the president’s physician, said Thursday.
What about Paxlovid’s rebound?
Paxlovid has been hailed as an important tool in preventing the worst effects of COVID-19, and for many people the main challenge has been getting their hands on the drug. But it has also been linked to a resurgence of COVID-19 infection after the pills were discontinued, known as the “Paxlovid rebound”.
Some people who took the drug say it quickly eased their symptoms – but they tested positive again and symptoms of COVID-19 returned, anytime from two to eight days after their initial recovery , the CDC said in May.
Dr. Anthony Fauci recently experienced the rebound. And while some people say the second set of symptoms is less severe, Fauci said for him the rebound case was worse.
If Biden has a similar experience, it could further delay his return to normal duties.
What are the side effects?
The Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization for Paxlovid to treat COVID-19 patients last December.
“It leaves a terrible taste in your mouth and also gives some people (me) diarrhea,” NPR’s Joe Palca reported in May, after being prescribed the drug.
Both of these reactions, including taste disturbance, dysgeusia, are recognized as potential adverse side effects for the drug, along with hypertension. Paxlovid may also interact with statins and other medications, as well as St. John’s wort and other supplements, according to the FDA.
How does Paxlovid work?
The drug is made by Pfizer and is a combination of two other antiviral drugs, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir.
Nirmatrelvir is a protease inhibitor that “has demonstrated antiviral activity against all coronaviruses known to infect humans,” according to the National Institutes of Health. Ritonavir has been used against HIV before; for patients with COVID-19, it serves as a reminder to help ensure enough nirmatrelvir is in the body to be effective.
It is crucial to start taking the drug as soon as a case is diagnosed.
“Paxlovid should be taken within five days of symptom onset,” the Food and Drug Administration said earlier this month. Speed is such a big factor that the FDA allowed licensed pharmacists to prescribe the drug to people who recently tested positive.