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Paxlovid and Metallic Taste

Paxlovid and Metallic Taste

As the SARS-CoV-2 virus remains prevalent, researchers and scientists have been working around the clock to find an antiviral drug(s) for COVID-19 to aid in disease management. Recently, three antiviral drugs have made their way into the market, including Paxlovid. 

Paxlovid has been highly beneficial for a group of individuals that have taken this antiviral; however, a number of people are left with dysgeusia (aka metallic taste) as a nagging side effect. 

What is Paxlovid?

Paxlovid is an oral antiviral that can be taken at home to help prevent high-risk, immunocompromised patients from being hospitalized. So, if you test positive for COVID-19 and a health care provider writes you a prescription for Paxlovid, you can take these pills at home and lower your risk of severe complications and avoid being hospitalized. 

How Does Paxlovid Work?

Paxlovid is an antiviral therapy that consists of two different medications together. When you take your three-pill dose, two pills will be nirmatrelvir, which inhibits the growth of the main SARS-CoV-2 protease – Mpro – and prevents viral replication. 

After the nirmatrelvir treatment, the COVID virus that is released from the cells can no longer enter uninfected cells in the body, which, in turn, stops the infection. The other pill is ritonavir, a drug once used to treat HIV/AIDS, which by inhibiting the CYP3A protein, boosts the levels of other antivirals such as nirmatrelvir.  

Metallic Taste as a Side Effect of Paxlovid

Paxlovid has been available to immune-compromised patients since December of 2021. Those who have taken the antiviral drug state they experience a very strong “metallic taste.” Some even stopped taking it because it affected their taste so severely.  

Also, medication usage and many other systemic health diseases increase the risk of developing side effects such as dry mouth and altered metallic taste.  

As we all have learned in one form or another, cardinal side effects of COVID-19 are dry mouth and loss of taste and smell. If you have been infected with the COVID-19 virus and qualify for the antiviral drug, Paxlovid, this drug may increase loss of taste, metallic taste, and dry mouth.  

Being immunocompromised, having COVID-19, and taking Paxlovid all discourage from maintaining healthy eating habits. This may lead to short-term malnutrition when nutrition is key to healing.  

Alleviate Metallic, Altered Tastes:

  • Maintain proper brushing and flossing daily 
  • Use oral dry mouth sprays 
  • Avoid metal utensils when eating 
  • Use MetaQil for metallic and altered taste oral rinse 
  • Avoid foods with lots of spice and salt; this may irritate the oral cavity

The benefits of taking Paxlovid far outweigh the current known risks. The side-effects of metallic taste from the antiviral should subside shortly after the last day of taking the medication. Paxlovid has decreased hospitalization and death from COVID-19 symptoms by 90%, which is significant and should not be taken for granted. 

*Medications are an advantage in promoting health. Along with many medications come significant side effects. Always consult with your physician before taking any medications.  

Cited Work:

13 Things To Know About Paxlovid, the Latest COVID-19 Pill. (n.d.). Yale Medicine.  


The Weird Side Effect You Might Get from Taking Paxlovid—and What to Do About It. (n.d.). Retrieved July 29, 2022, from

Learn more about Sara Juliano, RDH, and her journey here