PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — COVID-19 antiviral pills are hitting pharmacy shelves across the United States as another option in the fight against coronavirus, but right now they’re in short supply.
The pills have been available for a couple of weeks now, but doses are increasingly hard to find. Short answer — a doctor must prescribe it, and they are in short supply.
As of early January, the Biden administration had ordered 20 million courses of Paxlovid — half of which “have been accelerated for delivery by the end of June.”.
However, only a fraction of that total — around 200,000 courses of Paxlovid are expected this month.
An additional 5,000 doses are expected to come to Oregon next week. Right now, there are only a couple hundred courses around the Portland metro area, according to a tracker from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The head of the World Health Authority warns anyone from saying the pandemic is reaching its end game. There were a reported 147,000 COVID hospital admissions over the past week — out of more than 5 million new cases.
Paxlovid has been hailed as a potential “game-changer” in the treatment of COVID. Initial trials of the drug reduced the risk of COVID hospitalization or death by 88% compared to the placebo.
According to Dr. Richard Leman, Oregon Health Authority’s Chief Medical Officer, Paxlovid decreased the risk of hospitalization or death by more than 80%.
Meanwhile, Molnupiravir is recommended as a last resort when no other therapies are available due to its low efficacy. Molnupiravir decreased hospitalization risk by 30%.
Dr. Leman also said the new medicines are only authorized for people who have test-confirmed COVID, are at high risk of severe disease and supplies may be limited for some time. The pills are no substitute for prevention.