Hope for long-term Covid patients as Pfizer antiviral drug for patients with long-term symptoms
Hopefully they’ll be sick of Covid for a long time as a new study will test Pfizer’s antiviral drug Paxlovid on patients left with lingering symptoms months later
- 100 people who have had prolonged symptoms of Covid for more than 3 months will take Paxlovid
- Researchers want to see if it helps with brain fog, fatigue and weakness
- 1 in 13 US adults suffer from long-term Covid, and trial results are expected next year
Paxlovid – an antiviral agent that produces Pfizer – now seen as a possible long-term treatment for Covid.
The pharmaceutical giant’s flagship Covid drug won emergency approval in the US last December to treat high-risk patients – reducing their risk of death by 90 per cent.
It is currently the only drug you can take at home to treat Covid and has been given to millions of vulnerable Americans with underlying medical conditions.
Now, Stanford researchers are about to launch the drug’s first clinical trial to see if it can also provide relief to people who are still sick months and years after being cured of the virus.
Previous research has shown that people who took the drug were a quarter less likely to suffer long-term from Covid – which most often causes intense fatigue, brain fog and muscle weakness.
There are currently no proven treatments for long-term Covid, and no one knows what causes ongoing symptoms.
A popular theory is that there may be bits of the virus wreaking havoc in the body. A recent study suggested that people suffer from Covid for a long time physical changes to their brains months after clearing the initial infection.
It is officially estimated that more than 15 million Americans have chronic Covid in varying degrees.
Trial participants will take the antiviral drug for ten days longer than people usually take it, to see if it takes longer to work
What is Long Covid?
Long Covid is an informal term used to describe ongoing symptoms following a Covid infection lasting more than four weeks, according to the ONS.
Long-term Covid is attributed to a dizzying array of symptoms, including:
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- difficulty breathing
- chest pain or tightness
- problems with memory and concentration (‘brain fog’)
- difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- pins and needles
- joint pain
- depression and anxiety
- tinnitus, ear pain
- nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, loss of appetite
- high temperature, cough, headache, sore throat, changes in sense of smell or taste
There is no cure for the condition, although the NHS recommends a number of treatments designed to help ease symptoms.
A new study hopes to report on 200 adults who have tested negative for Covid for three months but are still suffering from symptoms.
Half of the participants will receive Paxlovid and half will receive a placebo.
To treat the infection, Paxlovid is given as six pills a day for five days, but participants in the new study will take the drug for 15 days to test the theory that the drug needs more time to have its full effect.
The results of the trial are expected next year.
The first participant in the trial was 67-year-old Bill Fimbres from California, who has been suffering from long-term symptoms of Covid for a year and a half, including loss of smell and taste, debilitating fatigue and brain fog.
He said, ‘It’s like you have someone else’s brain.’
Mr. Fimbres will take his first dose of the drug or placebo on Monday.
He said NBC News: ‘If I could get rid of just one of my symptoms, that would be great. I just hope.’
There is already evidence to suggest that Paxlovid may slow long-term symptoms.
A study The Department of Veterans Affairs this month suggested that those who received the drug immediately after a Covid diagnosis were 26 percent less likely than those who did not take antiviral drugs to have persistent symptoms after three months.
However, all participants were aged 60 or older with additional health conditions, meaning the findings may not apply to everyone.
Long Covid has baffled scientists and doctors since it first appeared on their radar in 2020.
Its causes have not been discovered, but experts believe it could be related to the body’s immune response to the virus.
There are also previously known cases of people suffering from long-term symptoms after getting over more common viruses like the flu.
The CDC estimates that about 7.5 percent of American adults suffer from prolonged symptoms of Covid.
Patients are mostly under 50 years of age and are more often women. Reports of lingering Covid are most common in southern states like Kentucky and Alabama.
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