What is Paxlovid?

Paxlovid is an oral antiviral medication developed by Pfizer to treat COVID-19. Approved by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), it is a combination of two drugs: Nirmatrelvir, which inhibits a protein the virus needs to replicate, and Ritonavir, traditionally used in HIV treatment, that will slow down Nirmatrelvir’s breakdown which helps it remain in the body for a longer and at higher concentrations. This medication is designed for early-stage COVID-19 treatment in adults who are at risk of developing severe illness.


What Does Paxlovid Do?

Paxlovid targets the coronavirus’s main protease, an enzyme critical for viral replication.

By inhibiting this enzyme, Paxlovid can effectively reduce the virus’s ability to multiply, helping to control the infection and reduce the severity of the disease. Clinical trials have shown that Paxlovid significantly lowers the risk of hospitalisation and death in high-risk COVID-19 patients when administered within five days of symptom onset.


Where Can I Get Paxlovid?

In the UK, Paxlovid is currently available through the NHS and is typically prescribed to those who are most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Patients can access it after being assessed by a healthcare professional who can prescribe it based on clinical criteria and individual risk factors.


Why Do We Not Know About Paxlovid?

Awareness about Paxlovid might be limited due to various reasons.

Initially, its availability was limited, and it was primarily used in clinical settings for high-risk patients. Additionally, as the pandemic situation evolved, public attention may have shifted away from COVID-19 treatments to vaccination efforts and other preventative measures. There are no financial constraints on prescribing Paxlovid.


Is Paxlovid Dangerous?

Like all medications, Paxlovid has potential side effects, but it is generally considered safe for its intended use.
Common side effects include;-

  • Altered taste
  • Diarrhoea
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle aches

Significantly, Paxlovid can interact with other medications, so it’s crucial for patients to inform their healthcare provider about all medications they are taking.

The decision to prescribe Paxlovid is made by a healthcare professional after weighing its benefits against potential risks for each individual.

Paxlovid Rebound:

About 20% of patients treated with Paxlovid improve and start testing negative but then develop rebound symptoms and start testing positive again. During this period, it’s unlikely that you will become seriously unwell, but it is assumed that you are infectious during this rebound period, so the advice is to isolate and wear masks.


Will People Who Are Considered Vulnerable Be Issued Paxlovid?

Vulnerable individuals, including older adults and those with certain underlying medical conditions putting them at higher risk for severe COVID-19, are prioritised for Paxlovid treatment in the UK.

The prescribing criteria are based on the likelihood of severe illness from COVID-19, and a healthcare professional will assess each patient’s eligibility.


Why Can’t I Get Paxlovid from My Private GP?

As of the current guidelines, Paxlovid distribution and prescription are controlled through the NHS to prioritise high-risk patients and manage the national supply effectively.

Private GPs, including those at clinics like Dr. Wayne Cottrell & Co, may not have access to prescribe this medication yet. However, there is hope that this might change in the future, allowing more healthcare providers to offer Paxlovid to their patients.


Paxlovid to Reduce Number of Inpatients and Ease Burden on NHS

The strategic use of Paxlovid is aimed at reducing hospital admissions and easing the burden on the NHS by preventing severe COVID-19 cases.

By effectively treating high-risk patients early in their infection, Paxlovid can play a crucial role in managing healthcare resources and improving patient outcomes.


Advice If You Want to Get Hold of Paxlovid

If you believe you are eligible for Paxlovid, you should contact your NHS GP or a COVID-19 clinic. They can assess your situation and determine if Paxlovid is appropriate for you.

It’s essential to act quickly if you develop symptoms, as Paxlovid is most effective when started early in the course of the infection.


Please note:- The clinicians at Dr. Wayne Cottrell & Co, are currently unable to prescribe Paxlovid. However, they are closely monitoring the situation and hope that changes in regulations will allow them to offer this treatment in the future. The practice remains committed to providing the latest and most effective healthcare options to their patients as soon as they become available.