“It’s a tight window: two days for testing and another two for getting medicine,” he says. “If you sit at home and think that covid is a hoax, will you be tested fast enough? Because while you are in the hospital, your disease is driven by the body’s inflammatory response and antivirals do not play a major role.
In a statement, the World Health Organization said it believes “prevention is better than cure” and that “these drugs will not be a substitute for vaccines.” The Geneva-based organization has not yet made a formal recommendation in favor of Paxlovid and says it wants to track whether side effects come out.
Robert Schaefer, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, says “it will be very difficult to use Paxlovid on a large scale, as people will have to be tested and treated very soon.” “Vaccines won’t have the same effect, and they will be a relatively expensive solution.”
A different strategy
Maybe so. But the bullets are still an important addition to the anti-Covid arsenal.
At the beginning of the epidemic, international organizations poured billions into vaccine programs. They also prioritize “reproducing” existing drugs, essentially finding pharmacy shelves that can help. But the creation of a new, custom chemical drug has not received the same kind of public support. Annette von Delft, a researcher at Oxford University, wrote in Nature last year that “the world seemed to have given up even before new antivirals were introduced.”
Von Delft is part of an organization called Covid Moonshot that says he struggled to find funding for new antiviral pills. Despite some great successes in other antivirals, such as the HIV control pills and more recently, the Hepatitis C virus. One reason, the group says, is that health authorities believe it will take a long time for new chemicals to form on the ground. .
It is true that such an endeavor involves inevitable rounds of trial and error. “You can’t give an enzyme to a computer and say, ‘Make me medicine for this.’ It can give you 100 ideas, but then you have to synthesize it, “says Stanford University researcher Michael Lynn. Synthesizing a drug can take several weeks, and then you still have to learn its main properties, such as in the gut. Absorbs that break down in the liver, all done through real-life tests on animals.
What’s more, some major pharmaceutical companies have moved away from antiviral research in recent years. Despite successes with HIV and Hepatitis C, the list of viruses affecting rich countries – viruses for which there is no vaccine and where one pill can make money – has not been long. Academicians like Icahn’s White, who specializes in influenza drugs, are losing their career prospects. “People didn’t think there was a more profitable virus for treatment,” says White. “There was a time when it was difficult to stay in business.”