Paxlovid cuts long COVID-19 risk, early VA findings show

People who take the antiviral Paxlovid within the first few days of a COVID-19 infection may have a 25 percent lower risk of developing a number of conditions associated with long COVID-19, according to findings published Nov. 5 in the preprint server medRxiv

Researchers used electronic health records from the Department of Veterans Affairs to identify patients who tested positive for COVID-19 between March 1 and June 30. The study included more than 56,000 veterans, including 9,217 patients who were given Paxlovid within five days of testing positive. 

Those who were given the oral antiviral medication had a 25 percent lower risk of developing heart disease, blood disorders, fatigue, liver disease, kidney disease, muscle pain, neurocognitive impairment and shortness of breath in the 90 days after infection. Researchers found a lower risk of developing long COVID symptoms after Paxlovid treatment regardless of vaccination status or whether it was a patient's first infection. For new onset diabetes and cough, there was not a statistically significant association between taking Paxlovid and risk of developing the two conditions. 

"Paxlovid reduces the risk of severe COVID-19 in the acute phase, and now we have evidence that it can help reduce the risk of long COVID," said Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, study author and chief of research and development at the VA St. Louis Health Care System. "This treatment could be an important asset to address the serious issue of long COVID."


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