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AbstractA consensus methodology for pharmacometric assessment of candidate SARS-CoV-2 antiviral drugs would be useful for comparing trial results and improving trial design. The time to viral clearance, assessed by serial qPCR of nasopharyngeal swab samples, has been the most widely reported measure of virological response in clinical trials, but it has not been compared formally with other metrics, notably model-based estimates of the rate of viral clearance. We analysed prospectively gathered viral clearance profiles from 280 infection episodes in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. We fitted different phenomenological pharmacodynamic models (single exponential decay, bi-exponential, penalised splines) and found that the clearance rate, estimated from a mixed effects single exponential decay model, is a robust pharmacodynamic summary of viral clearance. The rate of viral clearance, estimated from viral densities during the first week following peak viral load, provides increased statistical power (reduced type 2 error) compared with time to clearance. We recommend that pharmacometric antiviral assessments should be conducted in early illness with serial qPCR samples taken over one week.

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