Health DG: Paxlovid for high-risk Covid-19 patients, not for mild cases or prevention

PETALING JAYA: The country’s policy on the usage of Covid-19 antiviral drug Paxlovid does not include low-risk, asymptomatic patients, says Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The medication was also not for prevention of Covid-19, he said.

The ministry’s policy on administration of Paxlovid for Covid-19 was in line with the intent to reduce hospitalisation and deaths, he said.

"The Malaysian policy on the usage of Paxlovid has not included low risk patients who have no symptoms or usage for prevention of infection.

"Paxlovid is an antiviral and thus has to be started early when the illness is still in the mild category.

"The usage of Paxlovid is based on risk stratification from real Covid-19 patients’ data, who are determined as at high risk of deterioration.

"Parameters validated to be more prominent include age 60 years and above, immunocompromised patients, chronic pre-existing illness and obesity," he said when contacted.

Despite the implementation of public health measures to control disease transmission and morbidity, a segment of the infected population were at risk of deterioration requiring hospitalisation and the provision of supportive treatments, Dr Noor Hisham added.

"Those in the high risk population at home quarantine after being diagnosed as infected will benefit from interventions that reduce their risk of progression of disease, and thus reducing the pressure on hospital beds usage which can cater for severe Covid-19 diseases as well as non Covid-19 related illness," he said.

Dr Noor Hisham added that the administration of Paxlovid has substantially reduced the risk of hospitalisation and consequently, associated with death especially for those with high risk of deterioration, irrespective of vaccination status.

Based on clinical evidence, a combination of approaches are required to reduce Covid-19-associated hospitalisation, intensive care unit (ICU) admission and death at population level, he said.

Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh said the drug is currently available at private hospitals.

"It's available and there are no issues giving them to those who require it as per the Health Ministry's circular," he said.

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