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COVID-19 Anti-Viral Pills to Be Distributed at First Location in Rhode Island

The 'test-to-treat' location will prescribe Pfizer's Paxlovid to COVID-19 positive people

A newly opened “test-to-treat” site in Rhode Island will provide those with COVID-19 with a federally-authorized anti-viral treatment.

Anyone who tests positive for the virus at the site can be immediately evaluated and prescribed the treatment for the virus.

Paxlovid, the anti-viral, has been shown to reduce hospitalization by 90% when taken in the first five days after contracting COVID-19.

The Providence location, which previously only offered COVID-19 vaccinations, was chosen due to Rhode Island’s “highest-risk and hardest-hit population,” according to WJAR.

In a joint statement with Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee, the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha announced the treatment option on May 26.

Jha said the availability of the anti-viral treatment would help Americans “get back to normal life,” according to AP News.

“What has been remarkable in the latest increase in infections we’re seeing is how steady serious illness and particularly deaths are eight weeks into this,” he said. “COVID is no longer the killer that it was even a year ago.”

Jha also claimed that daily COVID-19 infections are likely being underreported because of the wider use of at-home testing kits.

The medication was first approved under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration in December of 2021.

“This authorization provides a new tool to combat COVID-19 at a crucial time in the pandemic as new variants emerge and promises to make antiviral treatment more accessible to patients who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19,” said Patrizia Cavazzoni, M.D., the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The medication “inhibits a SARS-CoV-2 protein to stop the virus from replicating” and is made to remain in the body at higher concentrations over a longer period of time.

Patients who are prescribed the treatment take three tablets twice a day for five days.

“Paxlovid is not recommended in patients with severe kidney or severe liver impairment. In patients with moderate renal impairment, a reduced Paxlovid dose is needed,” the agency warned. “Patients with kidney or liver problems should discuss with their healthcare provider whether Paxlovid is right for them.”

The Biden Administration ordered 20 million courses of treatment from its creator, Pfizer. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was the first vaccine that received full FDA approval.

President Joe Biden and his government plan to expand the number of “test-to-treat” sites across the country in the near future. 

Next week, the federal government will send authorized prescribers to multiple testing sites in Minnesota. The sites will be modified to be able to give COVID-19 positive individuals the anti-viral course.

New York, Massachusetts and Illinois are also expected to open sites in the following weeks.

Two years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the current seven-day average number of cases is roughly 104,000. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 76.5% of adults in America are fully vaccinated.

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