COVID-19 high-risk populations to have first access to COVID-19 anti-viral pills in Tri-State

COVID-19 high-risk populations to have first access to COVID-19 anti-viral pills in Tri-State
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 3:06 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Those at high risk of getting COVID-19 will be the firsts to have access to get the FDA-approved COVID-19 anti-viral pills now that some Tri-State hospitals and pharmacies have received them.

The oral medications treat mild and moderate cases of the virus.

“These drugs are really much like Oseltamivir and some of those drugs for influenza,” said Dr. Ashley Montgomery-Yates, Chief Medical Officer for Inpatient and Emergency Services at UK HealthCare.

The FDA recommends taking them as soon as a person is diagnosed with COVID-19 but within five days of symptom onset.

The remedy comes at a fitting time as Kentucky health professionals predict communities will have to learn to coexist with the virus.

Dr. David Dougherty, Infectious Disease Physician at Baptist Health Lexington said, “It may be something that’s with us seasonally for a long time, if not forever, but I think as we go through, you know, we’re two years into this now. This virus is becoming less novel to us.”

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The pills are scarce right now.

Kentucky physicians report the state received 720 doses of Pfizer’s pills, called Paxlovid.

The medication is administered as three tablets taken together orally, twice daily, for five days, a total of 30 tablets.

“That pill is going to be first distributed to high-risk populations in nursing homes and some of the federally funded clinical areas in rural spaces to target some high-risk populations,” said Dr. Montgomery-Yates.

Pfizer is not expected to ramp up production of the tablets until Spring, Montgomery-Yates added.

Merck’s Molnupiravir is a bit more plentiful.

It is four pills taken orally every 12 hours for five days, a total of 40 capsules.

“I think Kentucky got 3,000 this week and maybe 3,000 either next week or the week after,” said Dr. Montgomery-Yates. “The Merck pill will be only distributed to Walgreens, and there’s limited distribution.”

Molnupiravir will require a prescription from a doctor, so residents would have to secure an appointment with their primary care physician or an urgent care facility early on in their diagnosis to receive the drug.

FOX19 NOW reached out to the Ohio Department of Health and The Health Collaborative to find out how many doses Ohio is set to receive.

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