What you need to know
A combination of nirmatrelvir and ritonavir — also known as Paxlovid — is a common treatment for COVID-19 that can shorten the length of a person’s illness and make their symptoms less severe. The treatment is usually recommended for patients with a high risk of severe COVID-19, a category that includes pregnant people. Because COVID-19 increases the risk of pregnancy problems, which can affect children in the long term, having a safe and effective COVID-19 treatment for pregnant people is even more important.
In a small study supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, researchers reviewed anonymous medical records of 47 pregnant patients to find out whether Paxlovid was safe for pregnant people to take and whether there were any complications associated with the drug.
What did the researchers learn?
The patients included in the study were treated within the Johns Hopkins Health System and differed in age, vaccination status, and the trimester of pregnancy they were in when they took Paxlovid.
On average, the patients started taking Paxlovid one day after being diagnosed with COVID-19, and 37 of them received their prescriptions from obstetricians or gynecologists. More than 90% (43) of the patients had a comorbidity of some kind, and 30 patients had a comorbidity other than pregnancy that qualified them for the use of Paxlovid.
Only two of the 47 patients stopped their course of treatment after experiencing adverse effects. Twenty-five patients delivered during the study. Of 12 cesarean deliveries, three were unplanned and occurred because of issues during labor, such as arrested labor during the birth of twins and breech birth.
After analyzing the medical records of the 47 patients, the researchers concluded that the patients who took Paxlovid did not develop any serious adverse effects from the treatment, and no complications were associated with the drug.
Why is this research important?
Pregnant people have a high risk of severe COVID-19, so it is important that they have access to safe treatment options. Based on the results of this study, pregnant people with COVID-19 can feel more comfortable asking their health care providers whether Paxlovid is a treatment option for them.
Where can I go to learn more?
How COVID-19 Affects Pregnancy
Learn how SARS-CoV-2 infection can affect a pregnant person’s health and the health of their baby.
How Does COVID-19 During Pregnancy Affect Child Development?
A study shows that babies exposed to COVID-19 in the womb are more likely to have neurodevelopmental disorders.
COVID-19 Linked to Higher Risk of Pregnancy Complications
Researchers found that pregnant women with moderate to severe COVID-19 were more likely to have pregnancy-related complications than pregnant women without COVID-19.
Garneau, W. M., Jones-Beatty, K., Ufua, M. O., Mostafa, H. H., Klein, S. L., Burd, I., & Gebo, K. A. Analysis of clinical outcomes of pregnant patients treated with nirmatrelvir and ritonavir for acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. JAMA Network Open, 5(11), e2244141. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.44141
News and Stories
Read stories about the efforts underway to prevent, detect, and treat COVID-19 and its effects on our health.
NIH COVID-19 Resources by Topic
COVID-19 research information and resources by topic from NIH institutes and centers