Doctor warns of drug resistance if Covid antivirals used wrongly


Improper use of Covid-19 antivirals can create drug resistance, the Department of Disease Control warned on Monday.

Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, the department’s director-general, said healthy people who have been vaccinated do not need to take antivirals as most of them develop mild symptoms. 

The government recently gave private hospitals and clinics the go-ahead to prescribe the antiviral Molnupiravir to patients suffering from severe Covid-19 symptoms. 

However, Opas said that though the antivirals ease symptoms fast, they can have a negative impact in the long term if used improperly. 

“Antiviral drugs should only be taken when prescribed by a physician because improper use can create drug resistance,” he said. 

As for President Joe Biden developing a “rebound” Covid-19 infection last week after taking the antiviral Paxlovid, Opas said this was possibly because of drug resistance. He explained that drug resistance stops the antiviral from removing all the virus from the body.

Biden first contracted the virus on July 21 but developed mild symptoms. However, after testing negative for three days running, he tested positive again on July 30.

Separately, Opas said that 7,000 of the 257,500 Evusheld Long-Acting Antibody (LAAB) doses ordered with AstraZeneca will be delivered to state-run hospitals within this week. 

The drug will be prescribed to patients suffering from chronic kidney disease who require dialysis or immunosuppressants as well as organ transplant patients. 

He added that AstraZeneca will deliver the rest of the order within two months.