When COVID-19 antiviral pills were first approved by the Food and Drug Administration, they were in limited supply and not easily accessible to the average person. In late April, President Joe Biden announced that the pills were in “ample supply,” and has worked with his administration to distribute the pills throughout the country, according to the Deseret News.
Here’s how to know if you’re eligible for the pill, and where to find them.
Paxlovid: Pfizer’s Paxlovid is one of the most effective antiviral pills, according to the Deseret News. The pill is estimated to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by about 90%.
How do antiviral pills work? In order for Paxlovid to be effective, you must take it within five days of developing symptoms. You must take three pills twice daily for five days.
- Two of the pills in the treatment are nirmatrelvir, the drug used to stop the replication of the COVID-19 protein. The last pill is ritonavir, which is used as a booster for the antiviral drugs, according to Yale Medicine.
Who is eligible for antiviral pills? Antivirals require a prescription, according to NPR. Before taking the treatment, it’s important to first consult a doctor to ensure the pills won’t be detrimental to your overall health.
- If Paxlovid isn’t right for you, a doctor may prescribe another COVID-19 treatment, NPR states.
- In the United States, Paxlovid is available for those 12 and older who are at risk of developing a serious case of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status. Such groups include those with obesity, diabetes, cancer, or those who use immunosuppressive medicine. It is estimated that half of American adults qualify for the antiviral, per Reuters.
Where can I get the pills? NPR states that after receiving a prescription from your doctor, they will direct you to a nearby pharmacy where you can get the prescription filled.
- The treatments are also available at one of the country’s 2,300 “test-to-treat” centers. These sites have been designated by the government to prescribe and offer pills on sight, according to NPR.
Side effects: Paxlovid isn’t always a cure-all solution for COVID-19. Pfizer, via Reuters, reported that 1 in 3,000 people will relapse and catch COVID-19 even after taking the pills.
- Some people have also reported a metallic taste in their mouth after taking the pill, according to Health.
- Jacinda Abdul-Mutakabbir, an assistant professor at Loma Linda University, states that some of the side effects of Paxlovid include diarrhea, metallic taste, increased blood pressure and muscle aches.
- “While these side effects are not ideal, they’re definitely better than what we would see if these individuals were to go forth and develop severe COVID,” Abdul-Mutakabbir told NPR.