JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – It sounds like you’ve either had COVID or know someone who has. And now, there are new varieties of omicron that are dominant in the US raising fears of a new winter surge. The new subvariants, called BQ1 and BQ1.1, also seem to strike those who have been vaccinated or had the virus before. If you do get it, a drug, Paxlovid, is the drug of choice.
But why do so many who take the drug get COVID again weeks later?
Among those who came up with a COVID encore after taking Paxlovid were Stephen Colbert, President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden and even Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Davey M Smith, MD, Infectious Diseases at UCSD School of Medicine says, “So Paxlovid is an antiviral that works specifically on the virus.”
In clinical trials, Paxlovid was almost 90 percent effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk patients. However, studies show that relapse of COVID-19 appears to be more common in people taking the drug.
“We have a lot of people who have symptoms that come back,” explains Doctor Smith.
Currently, he is trying to find out why. The team of Dr. Smith at UC San Diego initially thought the virus became drug-resistant.
“We took the virus to the laboratory, it was not resistant. So then we thought, maybe the person didn’t have a good enough immune response. So we looked at that and it looked like there was quite a bit of neutralizing antibody that was there. So then we’re left with maybe we just didn’t treat the person enough.”
Researchers are finding that the return of COVID-19 symptoms after Paxlovid is likely due to insufficient exposure to the drug and that not enough of the drug was getting into the infected cells. They believe that the drug may need to be given for a longer period of time. Now they are working to figure out how long it is. But until then, Doctor Smith says the prescribed five days of Paxlovid is still a person’s best defense against suffering severe life-threatening symptoms.
Dr. Smith says, “So don’t be afraid of Paxlovid coming back. If you need medicine, take the medicine.”
In the future, doctors hope that doctors will be able to test whether patients need a longer duration of treatment with Paxlovid or whether they might be best treated with a combination of drugs.
Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa Videographer and editor.
Copyright 2022 KPLC. All rights reserved.