On Dec. 22, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)authorized the first pill said to be highly effective in preventing severe illness and hospitalization from COVID-19.
The new Pfizer drug called, Paxlovid, is said to treat individuals with early COVID-19 infections. The lifesaving pill has been authorized for COVID-19 patients 12 and older and is available to elderly people with pre-existing medical conditions like obesity and diabetes, according to The New York Times. Studies have shown that the pill is almost 88 percent effective in reducing the risk of hospitalization or death in unvaccinated adults “within five days of the start of their symptoms,” the publication added. The pill has also shown success in treating the Omicron variant.
While Paxlovid will be available to everyone regardless of vaccination status, supply is said to be limited, but the ability for millions of Americans to receive treatment for the highly transmissible virus in the comfort of their homes is a game-changer, especially as the Omicron variant continues to sweep across the nation.
Federal health officials announced on Dec. 21, that the new strain now accounts for 73 percent of all cases–almost surpassing the Delta variant. AP News reported that Omicron was responsible for “90 percent or more of new infections” throughout the New York area, the Southeast, the industrial Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest. The pill will now limit the amount of time people spend seeking medical assistance at hospitals, which are currently overflooded with patients impacted by the virus’ life-threatening symptoms.
In order to get Paxolvid, The FDA said infected individuals will need to take a test to prove they are in fact positive for the virus. They must also obtain a prescription for the pill from their healthcare provider– all within 5 days of experiencing symptoms. This could be a bit challenging for those who are asymptomatic and not exhibiting symptoms. The organization said that the pill is not available to people with pre-COVID-19 exposure, according to its statement. However, if you know for certain that you have been potentially exposed to the virus, an over-the-counter rapid antigen test could confirm your status and they usually produce results within 15 minutes or less.
The federal government plans to create enough pills for nearly 10 million Americans. Each will cost nearly $530 per patient.
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