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Monday, June 13, 2022

This is my fifth day on Paxlovid and, I’ve learned a lot. First: it erases most of your covid symptoms quickly. Second, yes, it really does leave an oily metallic taste in your mouth. Third, most people don’t know much about it. People have asked me whether they should get some “just in case,” or whether their grandchildren should get it or whether it really “cures” COVID.

Paxlovid isn’t like any other medicine I’ve taken. It’s an investigational treatment which has been given an emergency use authorization by the FDA. It prevents the virus from entering uninfected cells, but it must be taken within five days of testing positive in order to be effective. To make sure at-risk COVID patients can get it quickly, the Biden administration has made the pills available for free under an emergency program called “Test to Treat.” This program connects the dots from testing positive to patient screening to medical prescription to getting the 5-day treatment packet which you then administer to yourself at home.

My COVID to Paxlovid journey falls into three phases so far: COVID-19 illness, trying to get Paxlovid, and taking Paxlovid.

  • Day -2, Friday. John has symptoms, I don’t. Went to urgent care clinic. He tests positive, I test negative.
  • Day -1, Saturday, feeling fine. John is congested and tired.
  • Day 0, Sunday afternoon. Began to feel congested, hot, and tired.
  • Day 1, Monday. Tested positive with home antigen test. congested, hot, physical and mental exhaustion. Went online and found that CVS has “mini clinics” which do test-to-treat in our area. Phone calls lead nowhere. The website says to make an appointment on line, but all attempts end up at a screen that says “no appointments available.”
Positive

  • Day 2, Tuesday. Worse. Cough, sore throat, and bone aches–arms, legs, everything. When I cough my whole rib cage hurts. Messaged Carbon Urgent Care Clinic, where we had been tested before, and made a virtual tele-health appointment for tomorrow at 10:00 to see if I can get Paxlovid. You upload a photo of your positive test and your driver’s license. Now I have a fever. Sleep most of the day.
  • Day 3, Wednesday. Tired, sore, coughing.
    • Read up on Paxlovid. It’s only been tested on non-vaccinated people with underlying conditions. The side effects can be unpleasant. It reduces risk of hospitalization, but so do vaccines. My motivation for getting it: (1) It stops the virus from entering more cells, which prevents more damage. (2) I really don’t want to be in the hospital. (3) I can tell all of you about it. You’re welcome.
    • Virtual Appointment (Zoom): She gets right to the point. What meds do I take? Symptoms? Age? Weight? Underlying conditions? I qualify under age and weight.
    • The clinic has a button to press to send the prescription, but CVS doesn’t receive it. I message my virtual caregiver (actually she is a very nice real person) who sends the prescription to the nearest CVS pharmacy for me so they will fill and deliver it. I sleep all afternoon, checking with CVS about the prescription now and then. They ask for my credit card number because there is a “delivery charge.”
  • Day 4, Thursday. Called CVS. It’s ready. Asked about delivery. They say the only way they can do that is to put it in the mail. John and I drive over and get it at the drive-through. The CVS is 0.8 miles away. 2 PM: I take the first three pills. 10 PM: I take the second three pills. My mouth tastes oily and bitter. Ice cream helps. Chocolate chip.
  • Day 5, Friday, feeling much better. Went back to writing my memoir.

It’s true! All the symptoms disappeared like magic, except some residual fatigue. It’s Monday now, and I feel fine. Tonight I take the last three pills. I can’t wait to lose that icky mouth taste.

Additional Paxlovid information:

  1. Paxlovid Rebound: COVID has been known to rebound a few days after you stop taking Paxlovid. In the clinical trials, they saw rebounds in patients who didn’t take Paxlovid as well (placebo group). This effect, if it exists, is under investigation.
  2. Children: Pfizer Clinical trials for children 8-17 started in March.
  3. A study in Israel showed that Paxlovid reduced risk of hospitalization and death in people over 65. People between 40-65 did not appear to benefit. People who have been vaccinated (me) or have had COVID or both may not benefit much from Paxlovid.
  4. Long-term effects or effects against long COVID? Unknown.

I may never know whether taking Paxlovid made any difference at all in my case. But now that I’ve taken it, I’ll continue to follow future studies with great interest.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“Study: Paxlovid More Beneficial for Older Adults, White House Update on Kids’ Vaccines,” BioSpace. June 3, 2022. https://www.biospace.com/article/living-with-covid-19-good-news-for-pfizer-and-moderna-/

“Doctors Are Still Flying Blind With Paxlovid,” Asharq Al-Awsat, Monday, June 5, 2022. Mohttps://english.aawsat.com/home/article/3686711/lisa-jarvis/doctors-are-still-flying-blind-paxlovid

“Paxlovid cuts seniors’ COVID-19 risk, no matter their vaccine status: study,” McKnights, June 3, 2022. https://www.mcknights.com/news/clinical-news/paxlovid-cuts-seniors-covid-19-risk-no-matter-their-vaccine-status-study/

Other Sources

“PAXLOVID™ (nirmatrelvir tablets; ritonavir tablets). Now Authorized for Emergency Use,” Pfizer. https://www.covid19oralrx-patient.com/?source=google&HBX_PK=s_paxlovid&skwid=43700068281647229&gclid=Cj0KCQjwwJuVBhCAARIsAOPwGAT1XOZfF1iszJ8Bfahf6p3SI6qLRw91oAwlNInFck9A63IIldznWWIaAhAUEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

“COVID-19 Test to Treat Locator,” HHS, ASPR, https://aspr.hhs.gov/TestToTreat/Pages/default.aspx

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be written on our memories just as the 1918 Flu Pandemic, the Great Depression, or the Cold War left their mark on past generations. Since March 11, 2020, this blog has examined the modern pandemic experience, drawing on my background as a medical technologist, a historian, and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary world crisis.

2 thoughts on “Paxlovid, Day Five

  1. We treated covid with elderberry concentrate. (not the gummies, not the extract, and not quercetin)

    Symptoms cleared within 24 hours.

    Cost: $16 for the bottle, of which we used 4 tablespoons

  2. Hi Gail. I’m glad you are better and writing.
    Please take care🙏❤️I keep running. Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday. I’m glad that I’m here for her. Hope to see you when I get back. Thank you for all your advice and support.

    Sincerely,

    Ahdoja

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