What Doctors Wish Patients Knew About COVID ANTIVIRALS

COVID ANTIVIRALS: Oral antivirals can help reduce symptoms of covid. They are most effective if they are prescribed and started as soon as possible, ideally within 5 days of the start of symptoms. They are available through your GP, nurse practitioner or pharmacist. The two most common are Paxlovid and Lagevrio, which can be taken at home as tablets or liquid. They are listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which means they are subsidised and more affordable for people with a medicare card.

The other is remdesivir, which has to be given via an intravenous drip (infusion) at hospital or community health centres. The NHS has a free treatment programme for people who are most at risk of severe illness. It is called the Vaccines and Antivirals for Severe COVID-19 Infection (VASCID) programme. It provides a range of medicines including nirmatrelvir, ritonavir and remdesivir. It also includes a neutralising monoclonal antibody called sotrovimab, which may be given to some people who are unsuitable for or cannot take the other antiviral medicines.

Clinical trials show that an antiviral drug known as ensitrelvir can cut the time people spend sick with Covid-19 by a day, a new study suggests. It’s the first drug to make this kind of statistical cut in how long people experience post-Covid symptoms weeks later. Currently, people who are in the early stages of an infection are more prone to developing long-lasting symptoms and other new health issues later on.

It’s a promising new development, but it’s not yet clear how widespread this medication will be and what other benefits it may have. A big challenge will be to get it into the hands of people who need it, and quickly.

The AMA’s What Doctors Wish Patients Knew series is a forum for physicians to share their knowledge with the public about key health care issues in the news.

This week, AMA member Elisa Choi, MD, takes us through the latest in the omicron-variant pandemic.

This is a very serious virus, and the omicron variant of COVID-19 has been spreading rapidly since its emergence. The resulting strain on hospitals and communities has been considerable.

But the availability of new, oral treatments is providing a fresh source of hope. Last month, the FDA granted emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s COVID-19 oral antiviral, Paxlovid—nirmatrelvir co-packaged with ritonavir—and Merck’s oral antiviral, Lagevrio—molnupiravir.

These oral medications are at-home treatments that can be taken in pill form, but they need to be started as early as possible and within five days of symptom onset to be most effective.

To help people decide whether this is an option for them, the AMA has launched a new tool that can assess your eligibility for these medications. The COVID-19 Symptom and Antiviral Eligibility Checkerlaunch lets you find out whether you’re eligible for antivirals to help reduce your chances of getting seriously ill. This information will then be sent to your GP or nurse practitioner, who can then prescribe them for you.

Should you wish to discuss your condition with an experienced Australian trained Doctor or expert in this area. Please book in for an online and Telehealth consultation. Phenix Health is always available when you need us 24/7. Contact bookings@phenixhealth.com.au