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Health Commissioner alerts providers about COVID-19 treatment

FILE PHOTO: A handout photo of an experimental COVID-19 treatment pill, called molnupiravir and being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP
Molnupiravir COVID-19 antiviral pills.
Merck and Co Inc/Handout via REUTERS

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan alerted healthcare providers to inform COVID-19 patients about a new oral treatment Paxlovid, which can reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by up to 88% if taken within five days of symptoms showing.

Dr. Vasan advised healthcare providers during the April 5 advisory to offer treatment to any eligible COVID-19 patient, and also included that preventative treatment is available to those with pre-existing conditions, are immunocompromised or are otherwise unable to be vaccinated.

“The tools we have available to prevent the worst outcomes of COVID-19 are better than they have been at any other point in the pandemic, but they’re only effective if providers know to use them, and how to access them for their patients,” said Dr. Vasan. “We are raising awareness in the medical community that treatments save lives, and there are ready options for you and your patients who test positive for COVID-19.”

The advisory issued by Dr. Vasan also states that every patient 12 years or older, weighing at least 88 pounds, experiencing mild to moderate symptoms with at least one risk factor placing them at high risk for progression to severe disease should be offered treatment. 

Individuals at increased risk for severe COVID-19 should be informed about the availability of treatments and should get tested immediately if they develop symptoms or were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19 and seek treatment immediately if they test positive – including on a home-based test.  

The antiviral treatments can improve symptoms as well as decrease the risk of hospitalization or death, and they work best when administered as soon as possible following a positive diagnosis.

The advisory also informs providers of the availability of Evusheld preventative treatment for patients who are immunocompromised and may not sufficiently respond to the vaccines and for patients allergic to the vaccines. Evusheld is not a substitute for any COVID-19 vaccines, as is the same with all other antiviral medications.

According to the advisory, Paxlovid and molnupiravir should be administered within five days of symptom onset. Oral antivirals are available by prescription at several pharmacies in New York City, including Test to Treat locations that can test and prescribe treatment in one location.

 The Health Department has partnered with Alto Pharmacy to enable same day or next day delivery to patients at no cost. Alto Pharmacy will also deliver Evusheld to providers offices for administration to their patients. 

You can read the full advisory here.

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