Mexico purchases Pfizer’s oral antiviral therapy for Covid-19, Paxlovid

The Government of Mexico announced the signing of a purchase agreement for Pfizer’s oral antiviral therapy against Covid-19, called Paxlovid.

The contract completes the acquisition of 300,000 oral treatments which have already begun their arrival in the country.

Pfizer’s antiviral treatment, focused on being administered to people who have the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and who are at high risk of developing complications, was approved by the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks ( Cofepris ) last January 2022, being the first health regulatory agency in Latin America to approve it, and the second country in the region to be supplied.

The treatment includes nirmatrelvir, a protease inhibitor that was specifically designed to block the activity of SARS-CoV-2 protease 3CL, an enzyme that the coronavirus needs to replicate.

Data show that this treatment reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% when started within three days of symptom onset and by 88% when started within the fourth to fifth day of symptom onset, compared to a placebo test group.

Constanza Losada, president and CEO of Pfizer Mexico, said that this agreement helps them continue working hand in hand with the Government of Mexico to address this public health crisis.

“The fight and commitment to end the effects of the pandemic is everyone’s task and this is reflected in the agreement we have signed to continue seeking the well-being of people,” he said.

To date, Pfizer has supplied more than 26.2 million oral treatments against Covid-19 to 41 countries.

Co-administration with a low dose of ritonavir helps slow down the metabolism or breakdown of nirmatrelvir so that it remains active in the body longer at higher concentrations to help fight the virus.

Pfizer noted that nirmatrelvir showed no evidence of mutagenic interactions with DNA .

Nirmatrelvir has shown consistent antiviral activity in vitro against former and current variants such as Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma, Lambda, Mu, and omicron.

It is a drug produced by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer and recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to treat the early stages of the Covid-19 disease in patients at risk of hospitalization, such as the elderly, immunosuppressed, or unvaccinated.

Paxlovid actually consists of two drugs, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir. The former is an antiviral and the latter is a pharmacokinetic enhancer.

Paxlovid is only recommended for adults and adolescents 12 years of age and older.

The oral antiretroviral drug from the Pfizer laboratory is administered in the early stages of the disease when serious symptoms have not yet developed. One tablet is taken orally every 24 hours for five days. According to the WHO, it is indicated for patients “with non-severe forms of Covid-19 who are at high risk of evolving into severe forms of the disease and of being hospitalized, such as unvaccinated, elderly or immunosuppressed patients.”

One of the biggest questions that experts raised about the drug is the “rebound” effect that was seen in some patients after taking it. Fauci himself experienced this phenomenon, when after three days of negative rapid tests for Covid-19, he contracted the virus again, manifesting some mild symptoms such as low-grade fever, sore throat, and body aches.

Fauci, however, persisted in his defense of Paxlovid, arguing that the drug served “its original purpose” which was to prevent his hospitalization. “It’s not meant to prevent rebounds. It is meant to prevent you from being hospitalized. I’m 81 years old, I was at risk of hospitalization and I wasn’t even sick enough to be hospitalized,” Fauci told reporters.

Early this week, US President Joe Biden also experienced a COVID-19 rebound after being treated with the drug and testing negative.

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