The American College of Physicians has issued an updated version of its living, rapid practice point guideline on the best treatment options for outpatients with confirmed COVID-19 in the era of the dominant Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. The recommendations in version 2 apply to persons presenting with mild to moderate infection and symptom onset in the past 5 days who are at high risk for progression to severe disease and potential hospitalization or death.
Version 1 appeared in late 2022.
While outpatient management is appropriate for most patients, treatment should be personalized and based on careful risk stratification and informed decision-making, said the guideline authors, led by Amir Qaseem, MD, PhD, MHA, vice president of clinical policy and the Center for Evidence Reviews at the ACP in Philadelphia.
- Consider the oral antivirals nirmatrelvir-ritonavir (Paxlovid) or molnupiravir (Lagevrio) for symptomatic outpatients with confirmed mild to moderate COVID-19 who are within 5 days of the onset of symptoms and at high risk for progressing to severe disease.
New evidence for the Omicron variant suggests a possible net benefit of the antiviral molnupiravir versus standard or no treatment in terms of reducing recovery time if treatment is initiated within 5 days of symptom onset. Nirmatrelvir-ritonavir was associated with reductions in COVID-19 hospitalization and all-cause mortality.
“The practice points only address [whether] treatments work compared to placebo, no treatment, or usual care,” cautioned Linda L. Humphrey, MD, MPH, MACP, chair of the ACP’s Population Health and Medical Science Committee and a professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University VA Portland Health Care System. The ACP continues to monitor the evidence. “Once enough evidence has emerged, it will be possible to compare treatments to each other. Until that time we are unable to determine if there is an advantage to using one treatment over another.”
- Do not use the antiparasitic ivermectin (Stromectol) or the monoclonal antibody sotrovimab (Xevudy) to treat this patient population. “It is not expected to be effective against the Omicron variant,” Dr. Humphrey said.
There was no evidence to support the use of medications such as corticosteroids, antibiotics, antihistamines, SSRIs, and multiple other agents.
“The guideline is not a departure from previous knowledge and reflects what appears in other guidelines and is already being done generally in practice,” said Mirella Salvatore, MD, an associate professor of medicine and population health sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, who was not involved in the ACP statement. It is therefore unlikely the recommendations will trigger controversy or negative feedback, added Dr. Salvatore, who is also a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “We believe that our evidence-based approach, which considers the balance of benefits and harms of various treatments, will be embraced by the physician community,” Dr. Humphrey said.
The updated recommendations are based on new data from the evidence review of multiple treatments, which concluded that both nirmatrelvir-ritonavir and molnupiravir likely improve outcomes for outpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19. The review was conducted after the emergence of the Omicron variant by the ACP Center for Evidence Reviews at Cochrane Austria/University for Continuing Education Krems (Austria).