Medical experts question Kamala Harris’ use of Pfizer pill for COVID

Vice President Kamala Harris has said she had “no symptoms” following her COVID-19 diagnosis — but some medical experts were left baffled after it was revealed she was taking an antiviral pill designed to treat patients with severe cases.

Harris’ office announced Tuesday that the vice president was prescribed and had used Pfizer’s Paxlovid following a consultation with her doctors just hours after she tested positive for the virus.

Paxlovid is designed to reduce severe symptoms among high risk patients, which has some experts questioning why it would be prescribed to a healthy, double-boosted and asymptomatic 57-year-old patient.

“Asymptomatic covid and no medical issues isn’t an indication for Paxlovid,” former Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted.

Jonathan Reiner, Professor of Medicine and Surgery at George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences, raised a similar issue.

Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris used Pfizer’s Paxlovid after testing positive for coronavirus.
Sipa USA
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams
Former Surgeon General Jerome Adams said there was an “indication” for Vice President Kamala Harris to be taking Pfizer’s Paxlovid for COVID-19.
AP/Andrew Harnik
Paxlovid reduces severe symptoms among high risk patients.
Paxlovid reduces severe symptoms among high risk COVID-19 patients.

“Why would you give Paxlovid to someone without symptoms?,” he tweeted Wednesday.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about how Harris’ prescription appeared to be at odds with White House COVID-⁠19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha’s guidance that it be given to patients with a high risk for developing a severe case.

“Well, he also said … that you should consult with your doctor, and she consulted with her doctor,” Psaki said.

“She has been given Paxlovid. That’s something many Americans may be eligible for. They should also consult with their doctor. And I think overall, we’re just grateful that this is an approved drug on the market that many people can benefit from, including the vice president.”

Kamala Harris
White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Apr. 26, 2022.
AP/Susan Walsh

Reiner said the vice president’s easy access to the antiviral treatment, which is under an Emergency Use Authorization by the government, underscored the nation’s health care disparity.

[Paxlovid’s EUA] “is for people at moderate to high risk of severe complications,” he wrote. “The VP is apparently not eligible under the EUA.”

Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist who advised the Biden White House on COVID-19, told Politico’s West Wing Playbook that preferential treatment for the veep was not “unreasonable.”

Pfizer's coronavirus disease
Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill is manufactured in Freiburg, Germany.

“We know that the way that presidents, or in this case vice presidents, are treated is not necessarily the way the average person is treated,” she reportedly said.

“It’s not just about what is best for that patient – it’s about what’s best for the nation.”

“I have no symptoms, and I will continue to isolate and follow CDC guidelines,” Harris tweeted Tuesday. “I’m grateful to be both vaccinated and boosted.”

Christin Hakim

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