By Steve Bond, BScPhm, RPh, CDE

In the war against COVID-19, we have many weapons in our arsenal.  Social distancing, masking, proper hygiene and vaccination are first line and most effective.  But what happens if despite our best efforts, we still become infected?

For many people, they will feel unwell-fever, cough, change in sense of taste/smell, sore throat, stu­ffed nose, headache, tiredness, vomiting or diarrhea which lasts a few days but then improves over time.   Some people, however, are at higher risk of being hospitalized. If you test positive and have symptoms that started in the last 5-7 days and have one of the following risk factors, you may benefit from anti-viral treatment:

  • Are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. Partially vaccinated means having only 1 or 2 vaccine doses.
  • Are over 70 years old.
  • Are pregnant.
  • Have other health risks. Examples include obesity, diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability (e.g., Down syndrome), and sickle cell disease.
  • Have a weakened immune system

Your doctor or nurse practitioner can prescribe a medication called Paxlovid which is a combination of 2 different antiviral medications.  If started early enough, this can reduce the risk of being hospitalized by as much as 88%.   The medication has few side effects and the benefits outweigh them for certain.  There are a number of drug interactions associated with Paxlovid, but your pharmacist and prescriber will work together to manage them.  So, if you have symptoms, and test positive and it has been 5 days of less, you may benefit from treatment. Take care of yourselves and each other.