COVID-19 medications are essential in exiting pandemic – expert

Published February 11, 2022, 3:41 PM

by Charie Mae F. Abarca

Safe and effective medications for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are available in the country and these are “essential” in exiting the pandemic, adult infectious disease specialist Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvaña said on Friday, Feb. 11.

In a webinar held by the University of the Philippines (UP), Salvaña reiterated that COVID-19 medications matter, adding that these reduce the risk of death even after vaccination.

Molnupiravir (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Vulnerable populations still have [a] residual one percent risk of death even after vaccination, [but] medicines can decrease [this] risk by nearly 90 percent,” said Salvaña.

While the effectiveness of COVID-19 medications “need more evidence” in the vaccinated population, Salvaña said that it is “reasonable to assume” that these will help.

“We do not really expect that to change much. The incremental benefit should still be the same because these work to decrease viral replications,” he added.

Meanwhile, Salvaña stressed that with the existence of COVID-19 medications and vaccines, the viral transmission of the disease will “eventually become something that the country could manage.”

“That is exactly why many people are saying that the COVID-19 pandemic [is becoming endemic]. We are getting to the point that we are minimizing the societal impacts of COVID-19 in terms of how many people are getting killed [and] how many people will end up in the intensive care unit (ICU),” said Salvaña.

However, the expert said that despite the availability of COVID-19 medications, the public should still get vaccinated because the medicines cannot “come any close” to the benefit that one could get from vaccination.

Among the available COVID-19 medications were antivirals and immunomodulators.

According to Salvaña, antivirals kill the virus and prevent it from replicating. These include remdesivir, molnupiravir, and paxlovid which were proven effective against mild, moderate, and severe forms of COVID-19.