More people are now eligible for a ‘breakthrough’ Covid antiviral drug

More vulnerable people who contract Covid-19 and are fully vaccinated are entitled to so-called breakthrough antiviral drug Paxlovid to reduce their risk of becoming very ill, the HSE confirmed yesterday.

It comes as the summer wave has left 1,018 patients hospitalized with Covid – a slight decrease from earlier this week. 45 are in intensive care, down one since Tuesday.

It has been criticized that the HSE’s licensing rules for Paxlovid, which can be administered by hospitals or a GP, are too restrictive.

A spokeswoman for the HSE said its therapeutic advisory group and clinical prioritization subgroup had recommended changes to the way Paxlovid is used in Ireland “due to the current high rate of transmission of Covid-19 in the community”.

This is intended to attract more people to treatment and allow home antigen testing to confirm infection where previously a PCR test was required.

Vaccinated people aged 75 and over are now eligible, as are vaccinated people aged 65 and over who have additional risks such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and chronic lung disease.

Until now, Paxlovid has been limited to unvaccinated adult patients who were at risk of developing a serious infection but did not require supplemental oxygen.

It has also been given to immunocompromised adult patients who are at risk of serious infection but do not need supplemental oxygen and who, despite vaccination, are unlikely to have developed protective immunity.

Although it has been available for a few months, the numbers that have it are relatively small. As of July 5, a total of 318 Paxlovid prescriptions have been reported, 232 created in the community and 86 in hospital for community dispensing.

In addition, more Paxlovid was prescribed and dispensed in hospitals.

The Pfizer drug, manufactured in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, and Newbridge, Co Kildare, must be administered within the first five days of illness. It can reduce the risk of hospitalization by up to 89 percent.

The HSE spokeswoman said: “It is one of a number of new therapeutics or treatments for Covid-19 that have become available. Most of these products were only used for people at the highest risk of Covid-19.

“The expansion of eligible groups will be communicated to GPs and hospitals nationwide this week.

“Following this, the HSE will update our online clinical guidance, patient advocate network and public information on” More people are now eligible for a ‘breakthrough’ Covid antiviral drug

Fry Electronics Team

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