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Paxlovid for Covid Infection: 6 Facts

Michael Hunter, MD
Published in
3 min readMay 17, 2022


YOU TEST POSITIVE FOR A COVID-19 INFECTION. What’s your next move? Should you take an anti-viral drug such as the pill Paxlovid?

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the anti-viral drug Paxlovid for those at least 12 years of age, weigh at least 88 pounds, and test positive for the novel coronavirus.

Paxlovid is a medicine that received emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration for those with a Covid-19 infection.

The wonderful news? If you test positive for the novel coronavirus and your healthcare provider writes a prescription, you can take these pills at home, lowering your chances of being hospitalized. The pill is for those with mild-to-moderate Covid symptoms.

Paxlovid: How effective is it?

Do paxlovid pills work? The clinical trial that led to its Emergency Use Authorization showed that paxlovid is remarkably effective:

Paxlovid pills are associated with an 89 percent reduction in the risk of hospitalization and death.

Another positive of the drug is that it is provided for free by the United States government while there is a public health emergency. It would otherwise cost just over US $500.

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Paxlovid: What you should know

Here are six critical questions about the anti-viral drug paxlovid:

  1. What is paxlovid? The drug is an anti-viral therapy that combines two different medicines packaged together. Nirmatrelvir blocks the virus from replicating. The other drug is ritonavir, which slows down nirmatrelvir’s breakdown to help it remain in the body for a more extended period at higher concentrations.
  2. When should I consider taking it? You have to take Paxlovid within five days of getting symptoms.
  3. Are there potential side effects? Paxlovid is usually well-tolerated. Common side effects, typically mild, include altered taste, diarrhea, muscle aches, and increased blood pressure. Because the kidneys clear paxlovid…



Michael Hunter, MD

I have degrees from Harvard, Yale, and Penn. I am a radiation oncologist in the Seattle area. You may find me regularly posting at