Health

Expert: ‘Covid-19 drugs are a backup weapon for vaccines’


International experts hope the community understands the “prevention is better than cure” rule, stating that Covid-19 treatment drugs are only a preventive weapon for vaccines, not a “silver bullet” to repel the disease.

A year after the Covid-19 vaccine offered hope to end the pandemic, scientists announced the results of testing two potential antiviral tablets, which significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death.

If approved, paxlovid from Pfizer and molnupiravir from Merck will become the first two drugs to treat Covid-19 from the beginning in just 5 days, when patients first show symptoms. Many believe the drug can reverse the dreaded disease that has spread for two years, killing more than 5 million people.

However, experts are concerned that the community places too much hope on the drug, thereby ignoring the inevitable rule “Prevention is better than cure”. They argue that paxlovid and molnupiravir alone are not enough to end Covid-19. The world needs to add weapons to repel the virus, continue to develop and maintain a long-term anti-epidemic plan including: vaccines, booster doses, antiviral drugs, antibodies to prevent disease, trace and test, timely Time to group patients suitable for each form of treatment.

“We’re going to need to combine a lot of approaches if we’re going to make a successful comeback, rather than just trying to treat critically ill patients,” said Dr. determined. He is optimistic that the situation will be brighter within the next 6 months.

Medication taken at home to reduce the risk of hospitalization is a turning point in the fight against the epidemic. But the big lesson after two years of sweeping Covid-19 is that the epidemic is constantly changing and complicated. In fact, the vaccine is much more effective than expected. But in the US, where supplies are plentiful, the number of deaths from Covid-19 is higher than last year. Similarly, antiretroviral drugs are powerful weapons, but not “silver bullets” in the fight.

Initially, the drug was indicated for people at risk of severe nCoV infection due to age or other factors. Patients need to recognize symptoms early, get tested, and start treatment right away.

Both oral medications are effective, but have some limitations. Molnupiravir halved the risk of severe progression and death in the clinical trial, but some people still required hospitalization. Paxlovid is 89% effective, but must be taken within a few days of symptoms. It is easy for patients to miss the golden time to take the medicine.

Over time, experts learned not to underestimate the virus. As soon as treatments become more common, they’ll be watching for signs of resistance.

“Always stay optimistic with the new strategy that comes with it. I’m optimistic that we have a new cure for the disease, but it’s also prudent to understand that this is just an option. It only works if All other strategies are effective and powerful,” said Erica Johnson, chair of the Infectious Diseases Foundation, American Council of Internal Medicine and professor at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Pfizer’s paxlovid is produced at a factory in Freiburg, Germany, on November 16. Photo: Reuters

Carl Dieffenbach, director of the AIDS Research Division, National Institutes of Health, has spent decades battling the HIV virus. To date, efforts to develop a vaccine have not been successful, but the disease is much less dangerous thanks to treatment methods and prevention strategies.

Mr. Dieffenbach said that the world needs to have a similar view with Covid-19. Countries should build up an arsenal of many drugs, using different technologies to repel the virus. A class of drugs that help block nCoV from entering cells, such as monoclonal antibody therapy. Another class of drugs interferes with proteases (enzymes that viruses use) to process Pfizer’s paxlovid-like protein. A third type, like molnupiravir, binds to another enzyme to stop the virus from replicating.

According to Dieffenbach, it is necessary to attack Covid-19 from all three angles, and have a backup plan, combined in case the virus mutates and is resistant to each single drug.

“A minimum of six treatments are needed. As many as possible, nine or 12 are fine. Companies can make drugs on a large scale, readily available like aspirin or Tylenol,” he said.

Both Pfizer and Merck began scaling up production prior to approval. Pfizer plans to deliver 50 million treatments by 2022. Merck plans to produce 10 million courses this year.

Once there was medicine, the world also needed to adjust to adapt. In addition to medical tools, Dieffenbach called on countries to proactively set up regulations suitable for the new normal. In which, people with respiratory symptoms will be tested and used drugs within three to five days, without a prescription.

“In the future, people may not need to see a doctor if they have symptoms (suspected of having Covid-19). You can do a quick test at home, then go to buy medicine or have medicine available for immediate use.” , he said.

Some scientists fear people will use the drug as an excuse to avoid vaccinations. They asked if anyone evaded vaccination, did not get tested at the first sign, thereby delaying drug treatment?

Experts hope the community understands that prevention from the beginning is the best solution. Rajesh Gandhi, an infectious disease physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, says the treatment is only prophylactic for vaccines.

Thuc Linh (Follow Washington Post)

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