Additional reports from long-COVID patients who have been helped by Pfizer Inc.’s oral antiviral treatment Paxlovid provide new impetus for conducting clinical trials to test the drug for the debilitating condition, U.S. researchers said Thursday.
Three new case studies follow previous reports of long-COVID patients who experienced relief from their symptoms after taking the treatment, which is currently only approved for those at high risk early in the onset of COVID symptoms.
Up to 30% of people infected with the coronavirus are believed to develop long-term COVID, an illness that can last for several months and has symptoms such as fatigue, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, chronic pain, brain fog and muscle weakness.
It affects people who have had both mild and severe COVID-19, including children, and can be severe enough to put people out of work.
In a report released this week ahead of the peer review, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have detailed cases of three patients who developed long-term symptoms after COVID-19 infections.
In two of the cases, “patients were able to access Paxlovid antiviral therapy and felt that their long-standing COVID symptoms improved significantly,” said Dr. Michael Peluso, published online at Research Square.
In the third case, a patient received the drug as prescribed to treat an acute infection.
While his symptoms initially improved, they recovered shortly after he stopped taking the drug, and the man later developed long-term COVID.
“There have been many hopes that early antiviral therapy, in addition to preventing severe COVID, will prevent long COVID. And that may be true, but this case suggests it won’t be true 100% of the time,” Peluso said.
All three patients, who were in their 40s and had previously been vaccinated against COVID-19, were enrolled in UCSF’s lengthy COVID study called LIINC.
The cases aren’t definitive, but they do offer clues to long COVID, a poorly understood condition that has prompted researchers to find its possible causes.
“It’s proof that we need to look at this really soon, and … systematically, which means randomized trials,” Peluso said.
He said the UCSF team would love to conduct such a study, but it would require funding from agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the drugmaker.
Pfizer spokesman Kit Longley said the company doesn’t currently have any lengthy COVID studies underway, but is monitoring data from ongoing clinical trials and real-world evidence and may investigate the issue further.
“Overall, there is now ample rationale to design and conduct prospective controlled trials of antiviral therapies, including Paxlovid,” said Dr. Steven Deeks of UCSF and senior author of the study.
Evidence mounting for need to study Pfizer’s Paxlovid for long COVID – researchers say – SABC News
Source link Evidence mounting for need to study Pfizer’s Paxlovid for long COVID – researchers say – SABC News