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The United States is taking steps to make an antiviral for treating COVID-19 more accessible.
Echoing pledges made earlier this year, the Biden administration announced that it will open the first federally supported test-to-treat site in Rhode Island on Thursday, providing COVID-positive patients with immediate access to Paxlovid.
Additional sites are planned to open in Illinois and New York.
The White House said the COVID oral antiviral pill reduces the risk of hospitalization or death from illness by approximately 90%.
“Since Paxlovid was first authorized in December 2021, the administration has moved quickly to ensure that these treatments are widely available and that healthcare professionals and patients are aware of their availability and effectiveness. These efforts include a ‘Test-to-Treat initiative to help make it easier for people to quickly access oral antiviral treatments in one convenient location. There are now more than 2,500 Test-to-Treat locations across the country at local pharmacies and community health centers, up from 2,200 a month ago, “the administration said in a statement.
He said the number of people who have benefited from oral antivirals in the past seven weeks has increased more than sixfold and that the number of sites where Paxlovid is available it has doubled nationwide, to nearly 40,000 locations.
40% of pharmacies that have oral antivirals available are in communities with the highest levels of social vulnerability.
Additionally, clinical staff will be deployed to support state-run sites in Minnesota.
There are now more than 2,500 test-to-treat sites across the country at local pharmacies and community health centers.
Federal health agencies have published updated guidelines to help healthcare professionals stay current and navigate drug-drug interactions and contraindications.
Confirmed COVID-19 infections in the United States they have quadrupled since the end of March.
However, deaths from infections have steadily decreased.
White House COVID-19 Coordinator Dr Ashish Jha credited the vaccines and a more than fourfold increase in prescriptions for Paxlovid in the past six weeks.
He told The Associated Press that 25,000 to 30,000 cycles of Paxlovid are prescribed every day.
“Getting vaccinated and boosted is a huge part of making sure this type of business is substantially safer,” he said. “And then, of course, we want to make Paxlovid widely available across the country, so that if you end up getting a revolutionary infection, you’re still protected from serious illness.”
The United States has ordered 20 million courses of Paxlovid from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. Paxlovid is approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration. Possible side effects include allergic reactions, liver problems, and other problems.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.