Effectiveness of COVID-19 treatment with nirmatrelvir-ritonavir or molnupiravir among U.S. Veterans: target trial emulation studies with one-month and six-month outcomes.

Journal Article

BACKGROUND: Information about the effectiveness of oral antivirals in preventing short- and long-term COVID-19-related outcomes during the Omicron surge is limited. We sought to determine the effectiveness of nirmatrelvir-ritonavir and molnupiravir for the outpatient treatment of COVID-19. METHODS: We conducted three retrospective target trial emulation studies comparing matched patient cohorts who received nirmatrelvir-ritonavir versus no treatment, molnupiravir versus no treatment, and nirmatrelvir-ritonavir versus molnupiravir in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Participants were Veterans in VHA care at risk for severe COVID-19 who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the outpatient setting during January and February 2022. Primary outcomes included all-cause 30-day hospitalization or death and 31-180-day incidence of acute or long-term care admission, death, or post-COVID-19 conditions. For 30-day outcomes, we calculated unadjusted risk rates, risk differences, and risk ratios. For 31-180-day outcomes, we used unadjusted time-to-event analyses. RESULTS: Participants were 90% male with median age 67 years and 26% unvaccinated. Compared to matched untreated controls, nirmatrelvir-ritonavir-treated participants (N=1,587) had a lower 30-day risk of hospitalization (27.10/1000 versus 41.06/1000, risk difference [RD] - 13.97, 95% CI -23.85 to -4.09) and death (3.15/1000 versus 14.86/1000, RD -11.71, 95% CI - 16.07 to -7.35). Among persons who were alive at day 31, further significant reductions in 31-180-day incidence of hospitalization (sub-hazard ratio 1.07, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.37) or death (hazard ratio 0.61, 95% CI 0.35 to 1.08) were not observed. Molnupiravir-treated participants aged ≥65 years (n=543) had a lower combined 30-day risk of hospitalization or death (55.25/1000 versus 82.35/1000, RD -27.10, 95% CI -50.63 to -3.58). A statistically significant difference in 30-day or 31-180-day risk of hospitalization or death was not observed between matched nirmatrelvir- or molnupiravir-treated participants. Incidence of most post-COVID conditions was similar across comparison groups. CONCLUSIONS: Nirmatrelvir-ritonavir was highly effective in preventing 30-day hospitalization and death. Short-term benefit from molnupiravir was observed in older groups. Significant reductions in adverse outcomes from 31-180 days were not observed with either antiviral.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bajema, KL; Berry, K; Streja, E; Rajeevan, N; Li, Y; Yan, L; Cunningham, F; Hynes, DM; Rowneki, M; Bohnert, A; Boyko, EJ; Iwashyna, TJ; Maciejewski, ML; Osborne, TF; Viglianti, EM; Aslan, M; Huang, GD; Ioannou, GN

Published Date

  • December 16, 2022

Published In

  • Medrxiv

PubMed ID

  • 36561190

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9774229

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1101/2022.12.05.22283134


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States