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Even though it may be more pricey for some people to get Paxlovid soon, a new study finds that taking it is linked to a small reduction in long COVID. The same is true for Lagevrio, the other oral drug available that’s used to treat COVID-19.

A study released Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine found there was a small reduction in long COVID, or post-COVID condition (PCC), in people over the age of 65 who got either nirmatrelvir (Paxlovid) or molnupiravir (Lagevrio).

The data was derived from people who were part of the Medicare program and were diagnosed with COVID-19 from January to September 2022. Of the 313,262 participants in the study, 51,658 took nirmatrelvir during acute infection, and 8,089 took molnupiravir. 

For the study, long COVID was defined as any new occurrence (not present prior to COVID-19 diagnosis) of 11 noted symptoms from 4 to 12 weeks after the person had the COVID-19 infection. Symptoms included fatigue, difficulty breathing, heart palpitations and memory issues.

The incidence of long COVID was 11.8% in people who took nirmatrelvir and 13.7% for those taking molnupiravir. The incidence of long COVID was 14.5% in people who didn’t take either medication. The effect was smaller among females, as well as people who were Asian, Black and Hispanic race. The protection against long COVID was also reduced in people with lower incomes. 

“The current approved use of the two drugs is for the prevention of severe acute COVID-19,” the authors wrote. “Our findings suggest that they may also have a role in preventing PCC.”

The news comes as Paxlovid’s manufacturer Pfizer announced the drug is going on the commercial market and would cost more than double what the company charged the federal government. Paxlovid will still be free for some populations through 2028, including older adults on Medicare.

The authors noted that the research didn’t include details on whether or not people who took the medications were vaccinated.