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Research: COVID-19 prescribed oral medication lower the risk of death and hospital admission

Updated: Oct 7, 2022



Two types of oral antiviral drugs have been prescribed to COVID-19 patients since the fifth wave of the pandemic in Hong Kong. The Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care at CU Medicine and the Department of Emergency Medicine at HKUMed conducted a retrospective cohort analysis between February and March 2022, also known as the peak of the fifth wave, involving 54,355 COVID-19 outpatients in designated clinics and inpatients in public hospitals in Hong Kong. The research included patients who were 60 years old or above, and patients under the age of 60 with at least one chronic disease. Among these patients, 20% were prescribed either one of the oral drugs.


The study revealed that the oral antiviral agent strategy may reduce the risk of death in hospitalised patients by 76%. The risk of hospital admission in outpatients was also reduced by 88%. Nirmatrelvir-Ritonavir (Pfizer’s oral drug) may save over HK$43,000 by preventing one death when compared to usual methods of care.


The study findings have just been published in The Lancet Regional Health – Western Pacific.


Dr Crystal Chan Ying, co-first author of the study and Postdoctoral Fellow from The Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care at CU Medicine, said, “In COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms, both Molnupiravir and Nirmatrelvir-Ritonavir prescriptions were associated with reduced all-cause mortality and healthcare utilisation, while Nirmatrelvir-Ritonavir was associated with significant cost savings in inpatient settings.”


Professor Eliza Wong Lai-yi, co-corresponding author of the study from The Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care at CU Medicine, commented, “To ensure the sustainability of the healthcare system, it is recommended that a triage mechanism should be in place to refer COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms to designated clinics or collaborating general practitioners for timely prescription of oral antiviral agents.”


Details: Faculty of Medicine, CUHK: https://bit.ly/3EiIphv

Full article of the study: https://bit.ly/3CgCW8y


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