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COVID rebound after Pfizer treatment likely due to robust immune response, study finds

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Oct 6 (Reuters) – A spike in COVID-19 symptoms in some patients after taking Pfizer’s antiviral drug Paxlovid may be related to a robust rather than a weak immune response, U.S. government researchers reported on Thursday. .

They concluded that taking a longer course of the drug, beyond the recommended five days, was not necessary to reduce the risk of recurrence of symptoms, as some have suggested, based on intensive investigation of rebound in eight patients at the National Institutes of Health. Clinical center.

All patients in the study had developed robust immune responses, but the researchers found higher levels of antibodies in patients who rebounded.

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The team said their data contradicts the hypothesis that impaired immune responses are the reason symptoms return in some patients.

“Our findings suggest that these clinical rebounds are characterized by a more robust immune response rather than runaway viral replication,” the team wrote.

The studypublished in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, followed numerous reports of people who took Paxlovid as recommended within five days of infection and noted a return of symptoms after completing the five-day treatment.

President Joe Biden and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, experienced a COVID rebound after taking the drug.

The cases raised concerns that Pfizer’s two-drug antiviral treatment could interfere with the development of a long-lasting immune response.

The study involved six people whose COVID symptoms returned after taking Paxlovid, and two with rebound symptoms after apparent recovery who did not take the pills. Their responses were compared to a group of six people who had COVID but did not experience a rebound. All the volunteers had been vaccinated and boosted and all were infected with some version of the Omicron variant of the virus.

The blood of the study volunteers underwent intensive investigation to assess their immune response during the acute infection phase and the rebound phase.

All rebound patients had experienced a significant improvement in their symptoms prior to rebound. Of those who had a rebound after Paxlovid, four had milder symptoms than during their initial infection, one had the same level of severity, and one reported worse symptoms.

None of the rebound patients required additional treatment or hospitalization.

Rebound symptoms may be due in part to a robust immune response to residual virus in the airways, the study authors suggested. They concluded that the drug does not impede the immune response in some people, as some had feared.

Larger, more detailed studies are needed to better understand the rebound of COVID symptoms, the research team said, adding that current data supports the need to isolate such patients.

The researchers also suggested that there is still a need to test longer courses of Paxlovid in immunosuppressed people where the immune response may be ineffective.

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Reporting by Leroy Leo in Bengaluru and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Edited by Bill Berkrot

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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