Health Headlines: Rebound COVID

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Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 7:55 AM CST
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - It seems like either you’ve had COVID or know someone who has. And now, there are new omicron variants that are dominant in the US raising fears of a new winter surge. The new subvariants called BQ1 and BQ1.1 seem to strike even those who are vaccinated or have had the virus before. If you get it, one drug, Paxlovid, is the drug of choice.

But why do so many who take the drug, get COVID again a few weeks later?

Among those who came down with a COVID encore after taking Paxlovid were Stephen Colbert, President Joe Biden, the first lady Jill Biden, and even Doctor Anthony Fauci.

Davey M Smith, MD, Infectious Diseases at UCSD School of Medicine says, “So Paxlovid is an antiviral that specifically works on the virus.”

In clinical trials, Paxlovid was nearly 90 percent effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk patients. However, studies show COVID-19 rebound seems to be more common in people who take the drug.

“We have lots of people who get symptoms that come back,” explains Doctor Smith.

Currently, he is trying to find out why. Dr. Smith’s team at UC San Diego first thought the virus became resistant to the medication.

“We took the virus to the lab, it wasn’t resistant. So, then we thought, well maybe the person didn’t have a good enough immune response. So, we looked at that and it seemed like there was enough neutralizing antibody that was there. So, then we were left with maybe we just didn’t treat the person long enough.”

Researchers are finding that the rebound of COVID-19 symptoms after Paxlovid is likely due to insufficient drug exposure and that not enough of the drug was getting to infected cells. They believe the drug may need to be given for a longer period of time. Now they’re working on figuring out just how long that is. But until then, Doctor Smith says the prescribed five days of Paxlovid is still a person’s best defense against suffering severe life-threatening symptoms.

Doctor Smith says, “So, don’t be scared of Paxlovid rebound. If you need the medication, take the medication.”

In the future, doctors hope physicians will be able to test whether patients require a longer duration of Paxlovid treatment or if they might be best treated by a combination of drugs.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa Videographer and Editor.