There are more and more reports of patients who were treated with Pfizer’s antiviral pill experiencing a second round of Covid-19 shortly after recovering, according to NBC.
Pfizer’s Paxlovid became the first US authorized home COVID-19 treatment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s antiviral pill for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 infections in December.
According to the press release, Paxlovid significantly reduced the proportion of people with COVID-19-related hospitalization or death from any cause by 88%.
Biden administration announced this week to double the number of locations that carry Paxlovid. They secured funding to purchase 20 million treatment courses of the antiviral pill, per CNN.
White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha tweeted about Biden’s plan to make the pill available.
“Paxlovid is extraordinarily effective at preventing bad outcomes We’re getting it out to the American people,” he said.
A lot more places where Pax will be available including more test-to-treat
Education for providers to use it more regularly for eligible patients
Paxlovid is extraordinarily effective at preventing bad outcomes
We're getting it out to the American people
— Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH (@AshishKJha46) April 22, 2022
But now cases of Covid-19 recurring among people who completed their Paxlovid treatment are being reported. Experts are still investigating the causes and they are baffled.
Pfizer’s antiviral pills are highly effective at keeping people with Covid out of the hospital, but there are growing reports that, in rare cases, patients treated for the coronavirus with Paxlovid can experience a second round of the disease shortly after recovering.
Infectious disease experts stress that cases of apparent viral rebound, when someone gets better and then soon gets sick again, following Covid treatment are not cause for alarm. However, there are increasing calls for federal agencies to provide greater clarity and guidance about how patients and health care providers should respond.
With mostly just anecdotal reports coming out, questions remain as to whether people whose Covid symptoms return shortly after they take Paxlovid are contagious and should keep isolating to avoid passing the virus to others.
For those who do experience a second round of symptoms, the sudden shift can also leave them anxious about whether they should seek further treatment.
Michael Henry, 31, a vaccinated and boosted software engineer in Philadelphia, first got sick with Covid on April 4, suffering from chills and a fever.
Henry, who has medical conditions that raise his risk of severe disease, got a Paxlovid prescription from an urgent care center the next day. Within 48 hours, he was feeling “totally fine.” But then, one week after his last dose, he got sick once again, with milder cold-like symptoms, and remained sick for about five days.
On Tuesday, Dr. Michael Charness, chief of staff at the VA Boston Healthcare System, posted a pre-print detailing the case of a fully vaccinated and boosted 71-year-old man who recently saw his virus rebound after he took Paxlovid. The case study is under review by a medical journal.
Charness’ patient, who has intermittent asthma, started Paxlovid the day his Covid symptoms began. Two days later, he began a symptom-free week — only to get sick once again for about four days.
Scientific documentation about post-Paxlovid relapse has actually been available since last fall. Pfizer’s application to the FDA for emergency use authorization of Paxlovid stated that in the placebo-controlled clinical trial — which included 2,246 participants — “several subjects appeared to have a rebound in SARS-CoV-2 RNA levels around Day 10 or Day 14” after beginning treatment.