Important update on medications for outpatient treatment of COVID -19 infections

Two oral medications to treat mild to moderate COVID-19, Nirmatrelvir with ritonavir (brand name Paxlovid) and Molnupiravir are now widely available for outpatients who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness.  

Both medications were found to reduce the risk for hospitalization and death in outpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19 illness when treatment was initiated within 5 days of symptom onset. Paxlovid has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by more than 89%. Molnupiravir has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by 30%. Additionally, the monoclonal antibody, Bebtelovimab, is available for certain clinical situations and is administered intravenously.

The treatments are authorized only for those with risk factors for severe illness, but as much as 60% of those who are contracting COVID-19 may be eligible for the antivirals, because common risk factors like age, diabetes, asthma, overweight, and heart disease are included.

To increase access to COVID-19 oral treatments, the federal government also recently launched a new website, COVID.gov, that provides COVID-19 information about your community and a “COVID-19 Tool Kit” with links to resources for tests, treatments, vaccines, and free masks. The Test-to-Treat program makes it easier for people at high risk for severe disease to quickly access these oral treatments at no cost. 

People with COVID-19 symptoms must have a positive test before getting treatment. Yale Health members can schedule a test through the Yale COVID-19 Screening Program or at a test-to-treat site. If you have tested positive on a home rapid antigen test or through a test performed outside of Yale University, and are eligible for treatment, you should contact your primary care provider or call the Campus COVID Resource Line at 203-432-6604. You will be contacted and provided with clinical guidance, which may include recommendations for an oral treatment.

COVID-19 oral antivirals are free of charge during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. Yale Health patients prescribed these medications will receive them through Yale New Haven Hospital Apothecary and medications will be delivered to your home.

Although this is a valuable addition to the tools to combat the pandemic, vaccination and booster doses are the most important steps you can take now to reduce the risk of severe disease. Schedule your COVID-19 vaccination today and stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccination, including a booster when you are eligible.

April 28, 2022