One of the latest treatments being used to reduce the severity of COVID symptoms is the oral antiviral drug Paxlovid.
Paxlovid treatment is appealing for a few key reasons with the biggest one being it’s extremely effective, even against the most common variants.
Many of the initial COVID treatments, including the antiviral remdesivir, are given through an IV in the arm, so they have to be given in the hospital or at a clinic. However, you can take Paxlovid at home since it comes in a pill form, making it a convenient option as well.
But for Paxlovid to work, you must start taking it as soon as possible, within five days of infection. If you wait too long to take the antiviral, it’s much less effective. This means you should test yourself right away if you’re concerned you are experiencing COVID symptoms so you can start Paxlovid sooner rather than later.
Getting an appointment to be tested can take some time and even a few days before you can be seen and take a test. Thankfully there are home test options available so you can test yourself at the first sign of COVID symptoms and start taking Paxlovid (if appropriate) as soon as possible.
Paxlovid is a combination drug made of two different antiviral medications: nirmatrelvir and ritonavir. Antiviral medications target viruses and prevent them from replicating, eventually causing the viral load to decrease in your body. This makes it easier for your immune system to fight and recover from the virus.
No, Paxlovid isn’t the same as monoclonal antibodies. While monoclonal antibodies are also used to treat viruses, they work differently than antivirals like Paxlovid.
Rather than targeting the virus directly, as Paxlovid does, monoclonal antibodies help your body’s immune system fight the virus more effectively. It does this by making the COVID virus easier for your body to find, basically giving your immune system a cheat code to target and destroy the virus.
There have been several studies done to see if Paxlovid is safe and effective with the majority agreeing on one thing: Paxlovid helps reduce the risk of a serious COVID infection.
The initial Pfizer study investigating the potential benefit of Paxlovid found the antiviral reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% in patients who were considered high-risk.
An Israeli study consisting of over 180,000 patients showed Paxlovid significantly decreased the rate of severe COVID infection, including reducing rates of death caused by the virus. Patients who were at risk of serious infection (elderly, immunocompromised, or patients with neurological or cardiovascular disease) had the most benefit and improvement when taking Paxlovid.
Researchers also note vaccination status did not impact Paxlovid effectiveness. This means that regardless of a person’s vaccination status, taking Paxlovid can be beneficial.
A small study of 35 immunocompromised patients found Paxlovid shortened the time of viral elimination meaning they were able to clear the virus sooner than people who did not take Paxlovid.
The COVID virus has had many mutations or variations since it initially appeared. These variations can cause different symptoms and differences in the severity of COVID infections.
While there are several COVID variants, the Omicron strain is responsible for over 88% of new COVID infections in the U.S. as of August 2022 which means if you test positive for COVID in the near future, there is a high likelihood you have the Omicron variant.
Omicron is also felt to be more contagious compared to other variants like Delta.
Thankfully, Paxlovid still seems to be effective at reducing COVID symptoms caused by the Omicron variate. A 2022 study of nirmatrelvir, one of the two antiviral drugs in Paxlovid, was found to be extremely beneficial in high-risk patients who have the Omicron COVID variant.
Patients with the Omicron variant who took Paxlovid had less severe symptoms and spent less time in the hospital compared to those who did not take the antiviral drug.
Once COVID symptoms start, you should take Paxlovid within five days for it to be the most beneficial. Paxlovid is taken twice a day for five days.
People who are at risk of a serious COVID infection, including those who have other chronic illnesses, are immunocompromised or are 65 years or older benefit the most from Paxlovid.
Even if you don’t fall into the category of 'high risk' for a serious infection, you could still benefit from Paxlovid based on other factors.
The way to know if you should take Paxlovid is to be evaluated by a healthcare professional. This way your individual health history and your current symptoms can be assessed and a personalized decision can be made based on your situation.
Paxlovid is a prescription medication which means you can’t go buy it at the pharmacy on your own. You need a healthcare provider to prescribe Paxlovid and then send it to your pharmacy where you can pick it up or have it delivered to you.
We make this easy with our Test to Treat service right in the On/Go app! Take an On/Go COVID-19 rapid antigen test through the app. If you test positive, you’ll fill out a form that is reviewed by medical professionals. If deemed appropriate, you can get approved for a Paxlovid prescription and have it delivered, in just hours, completely free of charge.
Because On/Go tests are eligible for reimbursement through insurance, this entire process can be free! Head over to our insurance page to learn if you are eligible for reimbursement through insurance for On/Go tests.
The On/Go Advanced Care Toolkit app has several resources to support you from COVID testing to treating your symptoms. You can order COVID tests to have at home so you can take them at the first sign of symptoms without delay.
Another benefit of at-home tests is you can take them any time, day, or night. Because there’s nothing worse than developing a cough or a fever at 10 pm on a Saturday and feeling like you have to wait until Monday to be seen by your doctor.
If you test positive for COVID, the On/Go app can help you assess your symptoms with our COVID questionnaire. Your questionnaire is then evaluated by a healthcare provider who can prescribe Paxlovid if appropriate. These are both available for free within the app.