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Pfizer's Paxlovid and what we know

University of Minnesota's Dr. David Boulware tells us what we can expect

MINNEAPOLIS — First and foremost, what do we call this new pill from Pfizer? Is it Pax-lovid or Pax-lovid?

"I'm not sure," Dr. David Boulware from the University of Minnesota said. He's also a practicing infectious diseases doctor. "Well for 500, 600 dollars a dose, you can probably pronounce it however you want," he said with a laugh.

Under the Food and Drug Administration's Emergency Use Authorization, the treatment is simpler than say, administering or receiving monoclonal antibodies.

Paxlovid is reportedly taken three pills at a time, twice a day. The whole regimen for five days.

"Still a number of pills, there are two different medicines of both the primary protease inhibitor medicine as well as a second medicine called Ritonavir," Boulware said. "Ritonavir is an old school HIV medicine that's been around for 25 years, and it's actually used to inhibit the metabolism of the Paxlovid medication."

Paxlovid is by prescription only. And under the EUA, not everyone is eligible.

"Paxlovid is used for people with less than five days of symptoms, that are high risk," Boulware explained. "The biggest people who are going to benefit are those who are immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system."

Dr. Boulware also says this treatment is another tool in our box for fighting COVID, not a replacement for any of the others, like masking and vaccinations.

"Still there are potential complications for long COVID and other things, that are just less likely to occur if you're vaccinated," he said. "There are a lot of things that we have treatments for, for instance we have syphilis, penicillin treats syphilis, but it's still better to just not get syphilis in the first place."

Boulware also says...yes, there are treatments available right now. But accessibility will continue to be an issue.

"They're not available for the vast majority of people, even if you are high risk," he said. "Monoclonal antibodies are about a 100 doses a day, the Merck drug will have about 3,000 doses, will be issued or so more in January, but once again that's not a whole lot."

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