Paxlovid, Lagevrio Benefit COVID Outpatients in Omicron Era

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The American College of Physicians has issued an updated version of its living, rapid practice point guideline on the best treatment options for outpatients with confirmed COVID-19 in the era of the dominant Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. The recommendations in version 2 apply to persons presenting with mild to moderate infection and symptom onset in the past 5 days who are at high risk for progression to severe disease and potential hospitalization or death.

Version 1 appeared in late 2022.

While outpatient management is appropriate for most patients, treatment should be personalized and based on careful risk stratification and informed decision-making, said the guideline authors, led by Amir Qaseem, MD, PhD, MHA, vice president of clinical policy and the Center for Evidence Reviews at the ACP in Philadelphia.

Practice points

New evidence for the Omicron variant suggests a possible net benefit of the antiviral molnupiravir versus standard or no treatment in terms of reducing recovery time if treatment is initiated within 5 days of symptom onset. Nirmatrelvir-ritonavir was associated with reductions in COVID-19 hospitalization and all-cause mortality.

“The practice points only address [whether] treatments work compared to placebo, no treatment, or usual care,” cautioned Linda L. Humphrey, MD, MPH, MACP, chair of the ACP’s Population Health and Medical Science Committee and a professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University VA Portland Health Care System. The ACP continues to monitor the evidence. “Once enough evidence has emerged, it will be possible to compare treatments to each other. Until that time we are unable to determine if there is an advantage to using one treatment over another.”

  • Do not use the antiparasitic ivermectin (Stromectol) or the monoclonal antibody sotrovimab (Xevudy) to treat this patient population. “It is not expected to be effective against the Omicron variant,” Dr. Humphrey said.

There was no evidence to support the use of medications such as corticosteroids, antibiotics, antihistamines, SSRIs, and multiple other agents.

“The guideline is not a departure from previous knowledge and reflects what appears in other guidelines and is already being done generally in practice,” said Mirella Salvatore, MD, an associate professor of medicine and population health sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, who was not involved in the ACP statement. It is therefore unlikely the recommendations will trigger controversy or negative feedback, added Dr. Salvatore, who is also a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “We believe that our evidence-based approach, which considers the balance of benefits and harms of various treatments, will be embraced by the physician community,” Dr. Humphrey said.

The updated recommendations are based on new data from the evidence review of multiple treatments, which concluded that both nirmatrelvir-ritonavir and molnupiravir likely improve outcomes for outpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19. The review was conducted after the emergence of the Omicron variant by the ACP Center for Evidence Reviews at Cochrane Austria/University for Continuing Education Krems (Austria).

Review details

Inclusion criteria were modified to focus on the Omicron variant by limiting eligible studies to only those enrolling patients on or after Nov. 26, 2021. The investigators included two randomized controlled trials and six retrospective cohort studies and ranked quality of evidence for the effectiveness of the following treatments, compared with usual care or no treatment: azithromycin, camostat mesylate, chloroquine-hydroxychloroquine, chlorpheniramine, colchicine, convalescent plasma, corticosteroids, ensitrelvir, favipiravir, fluvoxamine, ivermectin, lopinavir-ritonavir, molnupiravir, neutralizing monoclonal antibodies, metformin, niclosamide, nitazoxanide, nirmatrelvir-ritonavir, and remdesivir.

It compared results for all-cause and COVID-specific mortality, recovery, time to recovery, COVID hospitalization, and adverse and serious adverse events.

Nirmatrelvir-ritonavir was associated with a reduction in hospitalization caused by COVID-19 of 0.7% versus 1.2% (moderate certainty of evidence [COE]) and a reduction in all-cause mortality of less than 0.1% versus 0.2% (moderate COE).

Molnupiravir led to a higher recovery rate of 31.8% versus 22.6% (moderate COE) and a reduced time to recovery of 9 versus 15 median days (moderate COE). It had no effect, however, on all-cause mortality: 0.02% versus 0.04% (moderate COE). Nor did it affect the incidence of serious adverse events: 0.4% versus 0.3% (moderate COE).

“There have been no head-to-head comparative studies of these two treatments, but nirmatrelvir-ritonavir appears to be the preferred treatment,” Dr. Salvatore said. She noted that molnupiravir cannot be used in pregnant women or young persons under age 18, while nirmatrelvir-ritonavir carries the risk of drug interactions. Viral rebound and recurrence of symptoms have been reported in some patients receiving nirmatrelvir-ritonavir.

In other review findings, ivermectin had no effect on time to recovery (moderate COE) and adverse events versus placebo (low COE). Sotrovimab resulted in no difference in all-cause mortality, compared with no treatment (low COE). There were no eligible studies for all of the other treatments of interest nor were there any that specifically evaluated the benefits and harms of treatments for the Omicron variant.

The panel pointed to the need for more evaluation of the efficacy, effectiveness, and comparative effectiveness, as well as harms of pharmacologic and biologic treatments of COVID-19 in the outpatient setting, particularly in the context of changing dominant SARS-CoV-2 variants and subvariants.

Another area requiring further research is the effectiveness of retreatment in patients with previous COVID-19 infection. Subgroup analyses are also needed to assess whether the efficacy and effectiveness of outpatient treatments vary by age, sex, socioeconomic status, and comorbid conditions – or by SARS-CoV-2 variant, immunity status (prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, vaccination status, or time since infection or vaccination), symptom duration, or disease severity.

Dr. Salvatore agreed that more research is needed in special convalescent groups. “For instance, those with cancer who are immunocompromised may need longer treatment and adjunctive treatment with convalescent plasma. But is difficult to find a large enough study with 5,000 immunocompromised patients.”

Financial support for the development of the practice points came exclusively from the ACP operating budget. The evidence review was funded by the ACP. The authors disclosed no relevant high-level competing interests with regard to this guidance, although several authors reported intellectual interests in various areas of research. Dr. Salvatore disclosed no conflicts of interest relevant to her comments but is engaged in influenza research for Genentech.

This article originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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Publish date : 2023-09-19 15:10:57

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