Paxlovid reduces risk of COVID-19 death by 81%, Clalit study shows

So far, over 30,000 COVID-19 patients in Israel have been treated with the anti-viral Paxlovid drug.

 Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment pill Paxlovid is seen in boxes, at Misericordia hospital in Grosseto, Italy, February 8, 2022.  (photo credit: REUTERS/ JENNIFER LORENZINI)
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment pill Paxlovid is seen in boxes, at Misericordia hospital in Grosseto, Italy, February 8, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/ JENNIFER LORENZINI)

A study by Clalit Health Services on the success of treating at-risk COVID-19 patients with the anti-viral drug Paxlovid has shown an impressive 81% reduction in the risk of death from complications of the virus and a 73% decrease in hospitalizations among those aged 65 and older, compared to a control group who did not want to take the medication. 

Generically known as nirmatrelvir/ritonavir, the oral protease inhibitor was granted emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2021.

It was authorized for treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in people aged 12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kilograms with positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 testing, and who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death. It should be taken within five days of the onset of symptoms.

"Our study demonstrated that Nirmatrelvir therapy was associated with a 67% reduction in Covid-19 hospitalizations and an 81% reduction in Covid-19 mortality in patients 65 years and above, during the Omicron surge."

Dr. Ronen Arbel

Published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine under the title “Nirmatrelvir Use and Severe Covid-19 Outcomes during the Omicron Surge,” the latest study is one of the most comprehensive ones published so far regarding the efficacy of Paxlovid. The Clalit team, who looked at at-risk COVID patients aged 40+, analyzed the data on the prevention of death and hospitalization using advanced statistical data.

The observational study, which did not receive financial support from any company or other outside vested interest, was carried out on the basis of Clalit’s computerized databases. So far, over 30,000 Coronavirus patients in Israel have been treated with the drug.

 Pfizer Paxlovid antiviral treatment pill arrives in Israel.  (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) Pfizer Paxlovid antiviral treatment pill arrives in Israel. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

The follow-up was carried out during the Omicron wave between January 9 and March 10 of this year. During that period, some 3,902 Israeli coronavirus patients were treated with the drug, which is 3.6% of the target population for antiviral treatment.

A total of 109,254 patients met the eligibility criteria, of whom 3,902 (4%) received Paxlovid during the study period. Among patients 65 years of age or older, the rate of hospitalization due to COVID-19 was 14.7 cases per 100,000 person-days among treated patients, compared with 58.9 cases per 100,000 person-days among untreated ones.

“The results of the study show unequivocally that treatment with Paxlovid significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19."

Dr. Doron Netzer

The researchers compared the hospitalization and mortality rates among those with Omicron who took the medicine and those who did not take the medicine.

Commenting on the results of the study, Dr. Ronen Arbel, Health Outcomes Researcher at Clalit Health Services and Sapir College said: "Our study demonstrated that Nirmatrelvir therapy was associated with a 67% reduction in Covid-19 hospitalizations and an 81% reduction in Covid-19 mortality in patients 65 years and above, during the Omicron surge."

“We are the country’s leader in the provision of giving Paxlovid to relevant patients,” according to Dr. Doron Netzer, head of Clalit’s medicine department. “It was given to patients all over the country, with medical teams monitoring the patients who took the pills.

“The results of the study show unequivocally that treatment with Paxlovid significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19,” he said, “and that the decision of the Health Ministry to allow the treatment saved many lives.”