The World Health Organization (WHO) recently updated its guidelines for COVID-19, stating that patients who contract the current variants of the virus are unlikely to develop severe disease or face mortality. This positive news can be attributed to the higher levels of vaccination, which have led to increased immunity levels among the population.
Fewer patients will require hospitalization as a result of these milder cases. The guidelines now include a new “moderate risk” category, which encompasses individuals who were previously considered high risk. This includes older people, those with chronic conditions, disabilities, and comorbidities associated with chronic disease.
While immunosuppressed individuals remain at a higher risk of hospitalization (6% estimated rate), those who are older than 65 years old or have conditions such as obesity, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, kidney or liver disease, cancer, disabilities, and comorbidities of chronic disease are classified as moderate risk (3% estimated rate).
Furthermore, patients who do not belong to any of these risk groups have a low risk of hospitalization, with an estimated rate of just 0.5%. Consequently, the majority of individuals are now considered to be at low risk by the WHO.
Antiviral Recommendations: Paxlovid, Molnupiravir, and Remdesivir
The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to emphasize the use of Paxlovid for individuals at high or moderate risk of hospitalization. Pfizer Inc. has developed this antiviral, which remains the top choice for most eligible patients due to its therapeutic benefits, ease of use, and minimal concerns regarding potential side effects.
In situations where Paxlovid is not accessible, the WHO suggests considering two alternative antivirals. The first option is molnupiravir, developed by Merck; the second is remdesivir, developed by Gilead Sciences. Both of these medications provide viable alternatives.
Read now: Pfizer to more than double the price of its COVID antiviral once the drug moves to the commercial market
For individuals at low risk of hospitalization, the WHO does not recommend any antiviral therapy. Instead, symptoms such as fever and pain can be managed with analgesics like paracetamol.
The WHO strongly advises against using a newly developed antiviral known as VV116, except for patients enrolled in clinical trials. This oral antiviral is a joint effort between Junshi Biosciences and Vigonvita in China.
Furthermore, the WHO has issued a warning against the utilization of ivermectin for individuals with non-severe COVID. This drug, primarily intended for treating parasites in animals, caused significant controversy during the pandemic due to fraudulent research and online misinformation that wrongly claimed its effectiveness as a treatment.
From the archive: ‘You will not believe what I’ve just found.’ Inside the ivermectin saga: a hacked password, mysterious websites, and faulty data.