New research shows no consistent association between COVID-19 rebound and treatments like Paxlovid.
The findings underscore the benefits of COVID-19 treatments – especially as more Americans fall behind on their recommended coronavirus shots due to many reasons, including vaccine fatigue and hesitancy, which is often politically motivated.
In a report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers looked at studies on COVID-19 rebound – or the resurgence of mild illness about three to seven days after resolution of the initial illness – published from 2020 through 2023. They found that the rebound effect happens to people whether they take COVID-19 treatments or not.
A person’s risk of rebound is related to many factors, including overall immune response to the coronavirus. No hospitalizations or deaths from COVID-19 rebound were reported in the studies.
Cartoons on the Coronavirus
“COVID-19 rebound might reflect viral fluctuation that is part of the natural disease process early in the course of illness and be related to how a person’s immune system responds to infection,” researchers wrote in a summary of the report.
The researchers said the benefits of COVID-19 treatment outweigh the risks of rebound. The findings suggest that the “substantial benefit of antiviral treatment among persons at risk for severe disease outweighs the risk for rebound, because rebound resolves quickly and is not associated with an increase in severity of recurring signs and symptoms or drug resistance.”
In another report published Thursday, researchers looked at clinical trial data for Paxlovid to determine the rate of viral rebound among COVID-19 patients. They found that rebound rates were similar between patients with and without antiviral treatment.
Paxlovid is approved for the treatment of mild or moderate COVID-19 in adults who are at high risk for progression to severe disease, including hospitalization or death.
“Consider antiviral treatment options, including nirmatrelvir/ritonavir, for all eligible patients, including older adults (especially those 65 years or older), patients who aren’t up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, and people with certain medical conditions that make them more likely to get very sick with COVID-19, such as weakened immune systems,” researchers wrote in a summary of the report.