Biden announces efforts to improve access to Pfizer COVID-19 treatment

The Biden administration said it will attempt to save more lives with Pfizer’s effective treatment for COVID-19 by nearly doubling the number of pharmacies that stock the pills and setting up federally supported “test-to-treat” sites that offer the drug to people who test positive.

The White House said it will also make sure doctors and the general public know about the treatment, Paxlovid, which was shown in trials to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by about 90%.

Paxlovid consists of nirmatrelvir, which can stop the virus from replicating, and ritonavir, which helps to keep the first drug in the body for a longer period at high concentrations.

The U.S. does not have an infinite supply of the drug but President Biden secured 20 million courses earlier this year and wants to make sure vulnerable Americans get access to the treatment.

“Part of our effort is to share more information publicly about who can get access, who can call their doctor and get access to it,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “We need to focus on making sure that everybody who is eligible knows they’re eligible and they can get access to it, because it is very effective in treating COVID.”

Ms. Psaki said the new White House COVID-19 coordinator, Ashish Jha, will discuss who should be first in line for the treatment when he visits the briefing room Tuesday.

The White House said Paxlovid is available in about 20,000 sites across the country but the number will rise to 30,000 soon and approach 40,000 in the coming weeks as the administration allows more pharmacies to order the pills directly from the federal government.

Pharmacies can also get the pills from state and territorial health departments and Mr. Biden’s test-to-treat initiative, which puts COVID-19 testing, consultation doctors and access to the Pfizer pills under a single roof in a one-stop-shop.

The White House fact sheet said there are 2,200 test-to-treat sites. The administration plans to add federally supported sites through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“These sites will launch in select communities in the coming weeks and, as more data comes in, the administration will determine how federally-supported sites can best be expanded and scaled if needed during any potential future surge in cases,” the administration said.

The administration said the last component of the new effort will be an awareness campaign targeting prescribing doctors and the public.

“Now that the administration has made treatments widely available and there are tens of thousands of sites around the country where they can be dispensed, the administration will ramp up its public awareness and education efforts on COVID-19 treatments,” the White House said.  “The administration’s efforts will focus on making sure that people know that COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments must be taken within the first five days of symptom onset and understand their role in reducing the risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19.”

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

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