What is Paxlovid? How is it used for COVID-19?

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DENVER (KDVR) — The White House announced Thursday morning that President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Biden is taking Paxlovid, an antiviral therapy given to patients with COVID-19.  

What is Paxlovid?

The United States Food and Drug Administration says Paxlovid is a medicine used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and children over 12-years-old weighing at least 88 pounds. It is used for people who test positive for COVID-19 who are at a high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.

The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer antiviral pill on Dec. 22, 2021. In July, the FDA announced a new policy that allows pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid for COVID-19 treatment.

How is Paxlovid used to treat COVID-19?

The FDA said Paxlovid is given twice daily for five days with three pills taken each time. The three-pill dose is two tablets of nirmatrelvir and one tablet of ritonavir.

According to the FDA, the nirmatrelvir tablets inihibt the SARS-CoV-2 protein to stop the virus from replicating, and the ritonavir tablet slows down the nirmatrelvir tablets’ breakdown to help it stay in the body for a longer period at higher concentrations, the FDA said.

During a trial, the FDA said Paxlovid significantly reduced the proportion of people with COVID-19 related hospitalization or death from any cause by 88% compared to placebo among patients treated within five days of symptom onset and who did not receive COVID-19 therapeutic monoclonal antibody treatment.

Jean-Pierre said in a statement that Biden will isolate at the White House, consistent with CDC guidelines.


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