With some countries, especially China, witnessing an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases, governments are reinforcing precautionary steps to curb the spread to infections, and adopting effective coronavirus treatment methods. The unprecedented wave of COVID-19 infections has severely strained hospitals in Beijing, and the city is grappling with shortage of drugs. Meanwhile, the city has decided to distribute Pfizer's antiviral drug Paxlovid to community health centres to treat those infected with the virus.
As reported by the state-run China News Service, community doctors will be given training on how to use drug first and then the medicine will be administered to COVID-19 patients with proper instructions.
According to a CNN report, Paxlovid is the only foreign medicine approved in China for treatment of COVID-19 patients, but its availability and accessibility remain a big problem in the country. Azvudine is another drug approved for COVID-19 treatment in China. It is an oral medicine developed by China's Genuine Biotech.
Paxlovid: You needs this medicine and how to use it
Pfizer's COVID-19 drug Paxlovid comprises nirmatrelvir (PF-07321332) tablets and ritonavir tablets. The oral medications are recommended for those with non-severe coronavirus infections, but who are at highest risk of developing severe disease, such as unvaccinated, older, or immunosuppressed patients. Trials have shown that treatment with this oral drug can reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 per cent in high-risk adults with COVID-19.
According to Pfizer, PF-07321332 is designed to block the activity of an enzyme that the coronavirus uses to replicate, namely the SARS-CoV-2-3CL protease.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described it as the best COVID-19 therapy for high-risk patients, and strongly recommends the drug to prevent such patients from hospital admission. However, this drug is not recommended for use in patients at lower risk of developing severe disease and hospitalization, as the benefits are negligible in this population.
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Certain things to keep in mindwhile using Paxlovid
According to Pfizer, Paxlovid should only be given to COVID-19 patients while the disease is at its early stages. It says:
It can be prescribed at the first sign of infection or at first awareness of an exposure.
It is not authorized for COVID-19 patients with severe infection requiring hospitalization.
It is not authorized for use as pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis for prevention of COVID-19
It is not authorized for use for longer than 5 consecutive days
Further, the company cautions that Paxlovid should only be prescribed by physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, and physician assistants who are licensed or authorized under state law to prescribe drugs in the therapeutic class to which Paxlovid belongs (i.e., anti-infectives).
The UN health agency had called on the producer to maintain transparency in terms of pricing and ensure wide geographical distribution to make this life-saving medicine easily available to low- and middle-income countries.
Paxlovid has been approved or authorized for emergency use in more than 60 countries across the globe to treat high-risk COVID-19 patients.