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Kamala Harris Tests COVID +Ve, Is Being Treated With Paxlovid: What Is It?

US Vice President Kamala Harris is doing fine, and is not exhibiting any symptoms, according to a representative.

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Kamala Harris Tests COVID +Ve, Is Being Treated With Paxlovid: What Is It?
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US Vice President Kamala Harris has tested positive for COVID-19, but isn't showing any symptoms, a spokesperson said in an official statement on Tuesday, 26 April.

Just hours after the announcement, Harris' secretary Kirsten Allen Tweeted that the US Vice President was being treated with Paxlovid.

Although she is doing fine, according to the statement, Kamala Harris will continue to work from home, and will only return to the White House when she tests negative.

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What to Know about Paxlovid, Pfizer's COVID Treatment

Paxlovid is an experimental antiviral COVID-19 treatment manufactured by US pharmaceutical company, Pfizer.

Essentially, the treatment works by inhibiting or curbing the release of an enzyme required by the COVID virus to replicate to keep the illness from escalating further.

According to the WHO, Paxlovid has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in infected patients by 85 percent.

Paxlovid was cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2021, for people over the age of 12, making it the first at-home oral medication to be authorised for COVID-19 in the US.

According to the company, the treatment is ideally meant for those who,

  • Have tested PCR positive for COVID-19

  • Have symptomatic illness

  • Or, have been exposed to the virus

In these patients, it works by nipping the virus in the bud to keep the infection from escalating to severe illness.

The drug was also 'strongly recommended' by the WHO for patients with mild and moderate COVID-19 who are at highest risk of hospital admission, including unvaccinated people and those on immunosuppressants.

Dosage: When and How

Paxlovid is really a combination of 2 drugs, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir.

According to the US FDA, the drug should be taken on an empty stomach, as soon as possible after the person has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or within 5 days of symptom onset.

The treatment has a 5-day course of two nirmatrelvir tablets and one ritonavir tablet, taken together twice daily.

The Biden administration has been pushing to increase access to COVID treatments as cases of the infection soar in the country once again.

Incidentally, the same day, the White House released another statement detailing the Biden Administration's initiate that aims to make COVID treatment options readily available to those who test positive.

It was also announced that the U.S. has committed to purchasing 20 million treatment courses of Paxlovid—more than any other country in the world—from Pfizer Inc.

Is Paxlovid Available in India?

Not yet, but this might change soon.

Just last week, the drug was granted an Emergency Use Authorisation by India's drugs regulatory body, Drugs Control General of India.

Hyderabad based pharma company, Hetero will launch Paxlovid in India, and the drug could, reportedly, hit the markets as soon as this week.

According to the company, the DCGI gave them the approval in light of the current COVID situation and the rising caseload in the country.

18 other Indian firms are in the running to manufacture the generic version of Pfizer's Paxlovid as part of Pfizer's licencing deal with Medicines Patent Pool—a United Nations-backed public health organisation—to expand access to the treatment in low and middle income countries.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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