COVID-19: 92% of patients treated with Pfizer antiviral improved

Of the individuals who received Paxlovid, 60% started to feel better within the first day, a survey by the second largest healthcare provider in Israel showed.

 Paxlovid, Pfizer's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pill, is seen manufactured in Ascoli, Italy (photo credit: PFIZER/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Paxlovid, Pfizer's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pill, is seen manufactured in Ascoli, Italy
(photo credit: PFIZER/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

More than 90% of coronavirus patients treated with Pfizer’s antiviral drug Paxlovid significantly improved within three days, data released by Maccabi Healthcare Services on Monday showed.

“We recommend to anyone who has fallen sick with COVID and is found suitable for the treatment with this drug to take it and get protected against a serious illness that can lead to hospitalization and even death,” Maccabi division head Dr. Miri Mizrahi Reuveni said.

“The results of the survey indicate the quality of the treatment, its effectiveness and importance during the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and especially in the midst of the current wave,” she said.

Maccabi is the second-largest healthcare provider in Israel with around 2.5 million members. So far, 850 of them have been given the drug.

The treatment involves taking three pills twice a day for five days, starting as soon as possible and no later than five days after the patient shows the first symptoms. It is intended for individuals in mild to moderate condition who are considered at high risk of developing serious illness.

An MDA volunteer vaccinates an elderly man against the novel coronavirus. (credit: MDA)An MDA volunteer vaccinates an elderly man against the novel coronavirus. (credit: MDA)

Data from the clinical trial showed that when the treatment was started within three days of the first symptoms, hospitalizations and deaths dropped by 89% compared with a placebo.

Israel started administering the drug on January 3.

Of the individuals who received the treatment, 60% started to feel better within the first day, and 92% within three days, reporting a decrease in fever and general symptoms.

Among the Maccabi members who started the treatment, 6% decided to interrupt it due to side effects. Among the 62% participants who suffered from side effects, one-third experienced a bitter metallic taste, 18% had diarrhea, 11% reported a loss in taste or smell, 7% had muscle aches, and 4% experienced a headache.

So far, no patient who has received Paxlovid has died.

About 25% of those who were offered the treatment by Maccabi refused it.

Data by the Health Ministry showed that as of last week, the rate of refusal was even higher, with almost a third of patients not accepting it – 753 refusals compared with 1,623 who accepted the drug.

Data from Meuhedet Health Maintenance Organization suggest that a significant number of those who refused the treatment might also be unvaccinated, which is also considered a high-risk factor.

As of Monday, the healthcare provider had offered the treatment to 188 patients. Of those, 133 were fully vaccinated, 22 partially vaccinated and 33 unvaccinated.

According to Meuhedet, 46 of its members refused the treatment, 13 of whom were unvaccinated.