The condition grabbed international attention last week when US President Joe Biden tested positive for the virus six days after testing negative following his first bout of the illness.
Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House Covid response coordinator, said clinical data shows the rate of rebound infections is low and noted that even those who suffer them are still generally protected from serious illness.
Biden is not the only high-profile patient to develop the condition. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci also experienced rebound Covid-19. Unlike Biden’s, his symptoms got worse when they returned after treatment with Paxlovid, and his doctors prescribed another course of the drug.
Experts have been calling for more systematic research into the instances of rebound to understand who is most at risk and whether the standard five-day course of Paxlovid should be lengthened to prevent it.
The CDC said most cases of rebound involve mild disease and that Paxlovid “continues to be recommended for early-stage treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 among persons at high risk for progression to severe disease.”
Pfizer, the company that makes Paxlovid, has said its studies showed rebounds were rare, and that they happened in both people who took the drug and those who took a placebo pill. Because investigators noted the phenomenon in both groups, the company doesn’t believe it is tied to the medication.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q: How does Paxlovid work?
The drug suppresses the coronavirus, blocking an enzyme that helps it reproduce inside the body.
As with all antivirals, the treatment is thought to work best if started within five days of the first symptoms appearing.
Clinical trials of Paxlovid showed that it reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 88% when given within five days of the start of symptoms.
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