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 (brand name Lagevrio™) are now widely available for outpatients who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness.  

Paxlovid has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by up to 51% in individuals with a history of one or more COVID-19 vaccinations, or a previous COVID-19 infection. Molnupiravir’s impact on hospitalizations has only been shown in individuals over the age of 65. Paxlovid is typically the go-to option unless it is not clinically appropriate to use. Paxlovid has not been studied to determine whether it would reduce symptoms or prevent Long COVID.

The treatments are authorized only for those with risk factors for severe illness, but as many 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 has a website,, 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 spouses, dependents, and retirees covered by Aetna Medicare self-schedule their COVID-19 test through Yale New Haven Health (YNHH). An order is not needed from your Primary Care Provider.  

  • This designated Yale Health scheduling portal must be used, not the general scheduling link on the YNHH website. This will ensure that test results come back to your Primary Care Provider at Yale Health.

Yale faculty, staff, and students:

If you have tested positive on a home rapid antigen test or through a test performed outside of the Yale COVID-19 Testing Program, such as a Test-to-Treat site and are eligible for treatment, you should contact your primary care provider. 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 can receive them at the Yale Health Plan pharmacy located at 55 Lock St. utilizing curbside pickup, a local CVS or Walgreens pharmacy, or if delivery is required your clinician can work with the St. Raphael’s Apothecary Pharmacy. Certain smaller, independent pharmacies may or may not have these medications in stock – it is recommended to call these pharmacies to check if they have each medication prior to discussing with your provider.

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.

December 21, 2022