Two new studies indicate oral antiviral drugs could improve outcomes for people with COVID-19. (EPA)

Evidence building on COVID-19 antivirals

Oral antiviral drug treatments approved for use in Australia could reduce the severity and lethality of COVID-19, according to international research.

The results of studies in Israel and Hong Kong (yet to be published or peer-reviewed) suggest the antivirals could improve patient outcomes but are likely to be more useful for older patients.

Some antiviral drugs have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration after clinical trials.

They can be prescribed by GPs for suitable patients and are sold under brand names including Paxlovid and Lagevrio, which were analysed in the Israel and Hong Kong studies.

Antivirals are recommended for adults who do not require oxygen but have other risk factors or comorbidities, and are supposed to be taken within five days of symptoms arising.

They can be helpful for those at risk of severe illness or hospitalisation, Doherty Institute director Sharon Lewin says.

“Everyone who is high risk needs to have a plan with their GP for how they’re going to access antivirals should they become positive,” Professor Lewin told ABC.

The Hong Kong study found both Paxlovid and Lagevrio appeared to help reduce the severity of disease and likelihood of death, although Paxlovid appeared more effective.

The Israeli study analysed Paxlovid and found it of more benefit to people over 65, with no significant impact on younger people.

Read the article by Jack Gramenz on Australian Associated Press.