Paxlovid? Evusheld? Discussing COVID therapeutics
Dr. Shireesha Dhanireddy, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, says emerging prescription therapeutics are available for high-risk people to treat or prevent COVID-19.
“We really want to make sure that [people] know that there is therapy available and how to access it,” said Dhanireddy. “The best way right now is to contact their [primary care] provider or contact urgent care. We don't want people showing up to the Emergency Departments that don't need to be there for getting this therapy.”
Dhanireddy discussed two therapy options you may have heard about:
Paxlovid is an oral antiviral that blocks the virus from replicating inside a person who’s already infected. Dhanireddy says it is intended to be taken within five days of symptoms developing.
“We're thinking about people who have a compromised immune system, for instance, from medications, or cancer or a transplant. And we're thinking about people who have significant risk factors like heart disease, lung disease, who may not have been vaccinated or boosted,” she said.
She also expressed agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in saying the drug offers benefit despite some patients' reports of a rebound of COVID-19 symptoms after they’ve taken Paxlovid.
“We think that maybe five days is probably not enough to do away with your symptoms completely. But I want to remind people that the studies [on Paxlovid] were really done to prevent hospitalization and death — not looking at symptoms.”
The aim of the drug Evusheld is to protect against infection. The monoclonal antibody treatment is given via two injections.
“Evusheld is a medication that is available for prevention of COVID-19 infection for people that are at risk for severe infection,” said Dhanireddy. “These are people that, even though they've had the vaccine, they may not have responded because their immune system was too low to respond. It doesn't mean they won't get infection, but the hope is that they will have less severe infection, hospitalization and death.”
The Food and Drug Administration has granted an Emergency Use Authorization to allow Paxlovid and Evusheld to be prescribed in the United States.
Download broadcast-ready soundbites on COVID-19 therapeutic drugs.