Last month, the Director General of Health Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah announced the arrival of the first batch of Paxlovid COVID-19 antiviral drugs. It is intended to be used by those who show symptoms of having contracted the virus, to prevent increased severity of the infection. And according to the health minister Khairy Jamaluddin, it looks to be working.
FMT cites the minister as saying that as of 9 May, a total of 179 COVID-19 patients have fully recovered from the infection after being administered Paxlovid. He also says that no side effects were recorded by the patients as well. The drug had been administered to patients as of 15 April, following their arrival four days earlier at Pharmaniaga Logistics Sdn Bhd. They have been supplied to 512 COVID-19 assessment centres and 78 government hospitals.
The Paxlovid COVID-19 antiviral drugs are meant to be taken by patients aged 18 or over who are at high risk of developing severe symptoms but don’t need oxygen therapy. For optimal effectiveness, the drug is to be administered immediately after a patient is tested positive, and within five days of showing symptoms to reduce the risk of more severe complications.
The Paxlovid treatment consists of taking one white ritonavir pill and two pink normatrelvir pills, twice a day for five days. The drug is not authorised for use for longer than the five-day course. Possible side effects of the Paxlovid treatment include muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhorea, high blood pressure and changes in the sense of taste.
While the drug looks to be effective, Dr Noor Hisham has emphasised before that Paxlovid is not a substitute for getting vaccinated and boosted. Khairy has also mentioned that those above 60, as well as those between 18 and 59 with comorbidities, can choose to get their second vaccine booster shot between four and six months of the first.