The First Oral Antiviral for Treatment of COVID-19 is Coming to Utah

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized use of the first oral antiviral for treatment of COVID-19. The emergency use authorization for Paxlovid allows the pills to be used to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older who weigh at least 88 pounds) who are at high risk for hospitalization and death.

Distribution of Paxlovid, which is in very limited supply, will be controlled by the United States (U.S.) government. (Utah doesn’t have it’s allocation yet, so none of the medication is currently available.) Utah’s initial allocation will be 440 units or just enough to treat 440 people.

The treatment is available by prescription only and should be started as soon as possible after the diagnosis of COVID-19 and must be started within five days of symptom onset. The window for treatment means it is critical for those who might benefit from the treatment to get tested at the first sign of symptoms.

“This medication will be in very limited supplies for some time and will go to those individuals who are most at risk for being hospitalized from COVID-19. We are working with providers across the state to determine the most equitable allocation strategies given this scarce resource,” said Kevin McCulley, preparedness and response director with the Utah Department of Health.

Paxlovid is not a substitute for vaccination in individuals for whom COVID-19 vaccination and a booster dose are recommended. The Utah Department of Health encourages anyone who hasn’t yet received a COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated and receive a booster if eligible.

  • Paxlovid is not authorized to be used for patients who need to be hospitalized due to severe COVID-19.
  • It is not to be used for pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis for the prevention of COVID-19.
  • Paxlovid should not be used for longer than five days.
  • It may only be prescribed for an individual patient by physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, and physician assistants who are authorized under Utah law to prescribe drugs in the anti-infective therapeutic class.
  • There are some serious health conditions that may disqualify someone from receiving the treatment, so check with your healthcare provider to see if you might benefit from the prescription.

“We are learning more about how to treat COVID-19 everyday. Things are changing quickly, especially with the emergence of Omicron, and some treatments we’ve had up until this point may not be as effective against the Omicron variant as they have been with other variants. Talk to your healthcare provider to see what treatment is best for you if you’ve recently tested positive for COVID-19,” said McCulley.

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