San Luis Obispo County Public Health is seeing a slight increase in COVID-19 rebound cases, specifically among those who have taken a Paxlovid treatment.
Paxlovid is a prescription oral antiviral drug used within five days of first symptoms to reduce the risk of hospitalization among high-risk patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Anybody who doesn’t have a drug interaction with Paxlovid who could go on to develop severe symptoms, so anyone at risk, especially an older person, an immune-compromised person, but anyone who has significant lung disease, heart disease, or any other significant disease that would put them at risk of developing severe COVID should probably seek out a physician and get Paxlovid,” said Dr. Thomas Vendegna, French Hospital Medical Center’s Chief Medical Officer.
The CDC sent out a health alert to medical providers and public health departments regarding so-called COVID-19 rebound cases.
“We are seeing that with people being treated with the Paxlovid pills, that for some people anywhere from two to eight days later after treatment, that they are testing positive again for the COVID virus. In some cases with symptoms but very mild,” explained Dr. Penny Borenstein, San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer, adding that it's similar to the first round of infection. “Sometimes congestion, sore throat, headache, fever at times.”
“Paxlovid continues to be recommended for early-stage treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 among persons at high risk for progression to severe disease,” the CDC stated in its health alert.
“It seems that the antiviral pills do suppress the virus and for some people, after they stop taking medication, they do see a rebound,” Dr. Borenstein said.
Dr. Vendegna said the benefits of this drug outweigh the low risk for re-infection
“They are getting better fairly quickly and they are certainly not getting hospitalized,” Dr. Vendegna said. “We haven't seen one person get hospitalized [at French Hospital] yet who received Paxlovid.”
Health experts recommend that patients who used this treatment and are feeling symptoms again to get another COVID-19 test.
"If the test is positive for COVID, then, unfortunately, the person needs to isolate again,” Dr. Borenstein added. “There is not a recommendation to restart medication, though, at that point.”
The isolation period would restart for a patient who tests positive even if it is the second time around.
“Isolation is a minimum of five days. If you test negative on the fifth day or thereafter, you can be relieved of isolation, but a mask still has to be worn for a full 10 days,” Dr. Borenstein said.
This treatment is still available for those high-risk patients at Test to Treat locations across San Luis Obispo County where a patient who tests positive can get a telehealth appointment on the spot to receive a prescription.
For a list of Test to Treat locations, click here.
Patients can also talk to their medical provider.
The CDC said it is unknown if transmission during the rebound period is different from the likelihood of infection during the initial infection.