Will the U.S. healthcare system thwart the Covid-19 antiviral revolution?

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Is a new dawn dawning in the fight against the global pandemic? Now that two large pharmaceutical companies have applied for emergency use authorization for new antiviral pills, we may soon have some valuable arrows in our quiver to fight Covid-19. Short course of Merck’s molnupiravir reduces hospitalizations, company reports among infected patients 50 percent; Pfizer’s Paxlovid reduced admissions by a 89 percent breathtakingand none of the treatment groups reported any deaths. The Biden administration has reportedly injected several billion dollars into the effort, ordering few millions everyone’s course at about $ 700 a pop.

The news brought in a significant amount of ballyhoo. Some connoisseurs characterized the potential of these drugs to ‘change the game’. While anyone who contracted the disease in the dark early days of the pandemic had no choice but to wait and hope their oxygen levels didn’t drop enough to require intubation, Antiviral treatment at the time of diagnosis could significantly reduce the chances of ending up on a ventilator. With more than 1,000 deaths a day and some 41,000 patients currently hospitalized, such effective treatments have a chance of stemming the pandemic. But these medical advancements do not exist in a vacuum, and if they turn out to be the breakthrough innovation many hope for, they will be determined by politics and politics. Here, without significant changes, the chances are slim that the antivirals will reach even the patients who need them most.

Translating the spectacular results of the Merck and Pfizer trials into a real world environment won’t be easy, even if the company’s celebratory press releases hold up. On the one hand, each diet must be started within five days of the onset of symptoms, which does not lack logistical hurdles. As anyone who’s fallen ill before can attest, the first day can easily be eaten away by true denial: Does my throat really itch? I’m still so crowded, right? But the real problem comes when it’s time to extract a diagnosis from our healthcare system: Almost two years after the onset of a life-changing pandemic, the United States still lacks any sort of cohesive testing infrastructure.


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