Risk/Benefit Profiles of Currently Approved Oral Antivirals for Treatment of COVID-19: Similarities and Differences

Title: Weighing the Pros and Cons: Risk/Benefit Profiles of Approved Oral Antivirals for COVID-19 Treatment


The emergence of COVID-19 has prompted a race to find effective treatment options to combat the viral infection. In this pursuit, several oral antiviral drugs have received emergency use authorization or full approval for treating COVID-19. Understanding the risk/benefit profiles of these approved oral antivirals is crucial for informed decision-making in patient management. This blog post aims to delve into the key points surrounding the risk/benefit profiles of currently approved oral antivirals for COVID-19 treatment, highlighting their similarities and differences.

Key Point 1: Remdesivir – The Pioneer in COVID-19 Treatment

  • Remdesivir, an antiviral medication, was the first oral drug authorized for emergency use in COVID-19 patients.
  • Benefits: Clinical studies have shown that remdesivir can reduce the duration of hospitalization and improve recovery rates in some patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Risks: Potential side effects include nausea, vomiting, liver function abnormalities, and an increased risk of hypersensitivity reactions.

Key Point 2: Molnupiravir – A Potential Game-Changer

  • Molnupiravir is an oral antiviral drug recently approved for emergency use in certain countries.
  • Benefits: Early clinical trials suggest that molnupiravir can significantly reduce viral load and lower the risk of hospitalization or death in non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
  • Risks: Common side effects may include gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and nausea. The long-term safety profile is still being studied.

Key Point 3: Paxlovid – A New Contender in COVID-19 Treatment

  • Paxlovid, a novel oral antiviral medication, received emergency use authorization from the FDA in November 2021.
  • Benefits: Paxlovid has shown promising results in reducing the risk of hospitalization and death in high-risk COVID-19 patients.
  • Risks: Potential side effects may include mild gastrointestinal symptoms and the risk of allergic reactions. Long-term safety data is still being collected.

Key Point 4: Key Similarities and Differences

a) Mode of Action:

  • Remdesivir, molnupiravir, and Paxlovid all target different aspects of the viral replication cycle in an attempt to inhibit the virus’s ability to reproduce and spread.

b) Efficacy:

  • Clinical trials have demonstrated varying degrees of effectiveness of these drugs in reducing hospitalization rates, improving recovery, and reducing viral load.

c) Safety Profile:

  • While generally considered safe, each drug has its own set of potential side effects and safety considerations that need to be monitored in patients.


Examining the risk/benefit profiles of currently approved oral antiviral drugs for COVID-19 treatment is crucial for healthcare professionals and patients alike. Remdesivir, molnupiravir, and Paxlovid have all shown potential in reducing the severity and duration of COVID-19 symptoms. However, it is essential to consider the distinct risks associated with each drug, such as potential side effects and long-term safety profiles. As more data becomes available from ongoing studies and real-world use, healthcare providers can make better-informed decisions regarding the optimal use of these oral antiviral drugs in treating COVID-19. Ultimately, a comprehensive understanding of the risk/benefit profiles will aid in tailoring treatment plans to improve patient outcomes during this ongoing battle against the pandemic.