Is the Chinese herbal medicine Lianhua Qingwen more effective than the Pfizer Paxlovid antiviral combination?!
Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : Lianhua Qingwen Is More Effective Than Paxlovid!
People are sharing a link to a Bloomberg called “Pfizer’s Covid Pill Doesn’t Work For Healthier Patients, Will Focus On Those With higher Risk”, together with this message :
Truth : Paxlovid Is More Effective Than Lianhua Qingwen!
This is yet another example of FAKE NEWS created by the Chinese 50 Cent Army (wumao, 五毛) as part of their campaign to support Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and here are the reasons why…
Fact #1 : Paxlovid Is Combination Of Two Antiviral Drugs
Pfizer PAXLOVID is an antiviral treatment that consists of two protease inhibitors :
- two 150 mg tablets of Nirmatrelvir (the new protease inhibitor developed by Pfizer)
- one 100 mg tablet of Ritonavir (an old antiviral approved in 1996)
Protease inhibitors work by binding to proteolytic enzymes used by the SARS-CoV-2 virus to replicate. This prevents the virus from replicating in the infected cells, stopping the infection and preventing transmission.
Drug combinations like this offer a synergistic effect, above and beyond their individual abilities. In this combination, ritonavir helps to slow down the breakdown of nirmatrelvir, allowing it to remain in the body for a longer period at higher concentrations.
Fact #2 : Paxlovid Was Proven To Work Against COVID-19
Unlike Lianhua Qingwen, Paxlovid underwent and passed an actual randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.
In the EPIC-HR clinical trial, Paxlovid was shown to reduce hospitalisation or death from COVID-19 by 88%, compared to placebo.
The EUA allows Paxlovid to be used for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and children 12 years and older, who are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19.
Fact #3 : Paxlovid EPIC-HR Trial Involved High-Risk Patients
I should point out that the EPIC-HR trial involved adults who have a high risk of developing severe COVID-19 :
- 18 years and older with a risk factor for developing severe COVID-19, or
- 60 years and older, regardless of chronic medical conditions
All these patients also were not vaccinated against COVID-19, which puts them at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19.
Fact #4 : Paxlovid Not Effective In Normal Risk Patients
After successfully proving that Paxlovid worked for patients who are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19, Pfizer tested it on “standard risk patients”.
Their study showed a 51% relative risk reduction of developing severe COVID-19, which was not statistically significant.
That was why Pfizer halted further enrolment in its Paxlovid trial for “standard risk patients”, which are people who do not have co-morbidities – health conditions that put them at risk of developing severe COVID-19.
This “failure” actually shows the value of running clinical tests, before approving any drug. Unlike Paxlovid though, Lianhua Qingwen did not undergo any clinical trial to prove that it can treat or prevent COVID-19.
Fact #5 : Lianhua Qingwen Not Proven To Work Against COVID-19
Lianhua Qingwen (连花清瘟) has been heavily promoted by the Chinese government and the Chinese 50 Cent Army (wumao, 五毛), leading to massive sales in the global Chinese diaspora.
It then gained oversized importance when both Hong Kong and Shanghai distributed boxes of these capsules to help stave off the surge of COVID-19 in both cities.
Yet, the mass distribution of Lianhua Qingwen has done nothing to stop the spread of COVID-19 in both cities.
That’s because, unlike Paxlovid, there never was any evidence that Lianhua Qingwen can treat or prevent COVID-19.
Its main “call to fame” was a small Chinese study conducted early during the pandemic, which showed that it had only a modest effect on symptom recovery :
- time to recover from fever : 2 days, instead of 3 days
- time to recover from fatigue : 3 days, instead of 6 days
- time to recover from coughing : 7 days, instead of 10 days
There was NO DIFFERENCE in the viral load, or the risk of developing severe COVID-19.
In other words – Lianhua Qingwen only helped to reduce symptoms, and was no different from taking over-the-counter drugs like paracetamol.
Fact #6 : Lianhua Qingwen Should Not Be Taken To Prevent COVID-19
Official Chinese media outlets like CGTN and China Daily have falsely claimed that that Lianhua Qingwen was “proven effective for the treatment of COVID-19” and that it was “approved to treat [COVID-19] virus”.
However, Lianhua Qingwen cannot prevent COVID-19, and should not be taken on a long-term basis to prevent it, due to potential side effects.
Fact #7 : Chinese Official Admits Lianhua Qingwen Cannot Kill Coronavirus
When Chinese Deputy Consul General in Vancouver, Kong Weiwei, was confronted about these claims, he said that people should be “mature enough” to do their own research and understand that Lianhua Qingwen cannot kill the COVID-19 virus :
Fact #8 : Singapore HSA Warns Against Lianhua Qingwen Claims
The Singapore Health Sciences Authority (HSA) continues to warn the public not to believe the many misleading claims made about Lianhua Qingwen’s ability to treat or prevent COVID-19.
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