What You Need to Know About Paxlovid

In December 2021, the FDA authorized the use of Paxlovid, which some people say is the first oral medication that helps keep adults and children at risk of developing severe COVID alive and out of the hospital while also shortening recovery time and reducing coronavirus spread.

Just one day later, the FDA authorized a second oral drug called Lagevrio (molnupiravir), which has a similar benefit but is not nearly as protective as Paxlovid, which was 88% effective against COVID-related hospitalization and death among the vulnerable in a clinical trial.

“I think the number one thing to know is that Paxlovid is still proving to keep vulnerable and high-risk people and others out of the hospital,” Dr. Michael Mina, chief science officer at eMed, a digital platform that offers at-home testing and telemedicine services.”

The use of Paxlovid and other treatments may help explain why hospitalizations and deaths have not mirrored the recent increase in COVID cases nationwide.

Paxlovid is said to treat mild-to-moderate COVID in adults and kids ages 12 and older. The full treatment consists of three pills taken together twice a day for five days. You must start the treatment as soon after your COVID diagnosis as possible, and definitely within the five days since your symptoms started.
Waiting too long means you miss a window of opportunity and it may not work as well or at all.

To get Paxlovid, you’ll need a prescription from your doctor. You shouldn’t take the drug before a COVID exposure or after to prevent an infection (unless you are COVID positive), or if you are already hospitalized with severe illness.

Two of the three pills you take consist of nirmatrelvir, which blocks the coronavirus from making copies of itself. The third pill is ritonavir, which helps nirmatrelvir stay in your body for a longer period at high concentrations.

Like any drug, Paxlovid has side effects, one of the most common being a weird, metallic taste in your mouth. Others include diarrhea, high blood pressure, and muscle aches.

If you have either uncontrolled/undiagnosed HIV or liver or kidney disease, you should not take Paxlovid. Paxlovid can also have potentially harmful interactions when combined with other medications, including some blood thinning drugs, such as warfarin; antidepressants like bupropion and trazodone; herbal products like St. John’s wort; antibiotics like erythromycin; and others.

People are allowed to receive only Lagevrio and Paxlovid through the clinics participating in the initiative, which are free regardless if you have insurance or not.

Here you can find locations near you that are part of the Test to Treat initiative.
You can also visit your doctor (if you have one) who can prescribe Paxlovid, which you can pick up at a local pharmacy.

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