Researchers at the University of Kentucky studied whether Paxlovid, an antiviral drug, can help prevent hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 in people with rheumatological diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. These diseases often require treatments that suppress the immune system, making these patients more vulnerable to severe COVID-19.

Purpose: The goal was to see if Paxlovid could protect these patients from severe COVID-19, helping them avoid hospital stays and deaths, and preventing disruptions in their regular treatments.

Methods: The researchers looked back at medical records of 2,387 patients with rheumatological diseases who had COVID-19 between January 2020 and September 2022. They analyzed data to see how many of these patients were hospitalized or died from COVID-19, comparing those who took Paxlovid and those who didn’t.

Results: They found that:

• 76.9% of the patients were vaccinated against COVID-19, and 18% were given Paxlovid.
• Only 3.6% received both the vaccine and Paxlovid.
• For unvaccinated patients, Paxlovid didn’t significantly reduce hospital visits or emergency room trips.
• However, vaccinated patients who also took Paxlovid were much less likely to be hospitalized or need emergency care.
• Paxlovid alone didn’t significantly reduce deaths from COVID-19, but there was a trend suggesting it might help vaccinated patients survive, though this wasn’t statistically significant.

Conclusion: Paxlovid seems to protect patients with rheumatological diseases from severe COVID-19, especially if they are vaccinated. More research with larger groups of patients is needed to confirm these findings.