Information for Patients
Residents who test positive for COVID-19 can now seek new treatments that help prevent severe disease. Therapeutics are medications used to treat at risk groups for COVID-19 and are prescribed by healthcare providers. Please contact your health care provider to determine if you are eligible for a COVID-19 therapeutic.
Please note treatments must be started within the first few days to be effective. These therapeutics are NOT a substitute for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and staying up to date on approved boosters can lower your risk of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 and prevent serious illness and death.
What are antiviral drugs?
Antiviral drugs inhibit or reduce the ability of the virus to replicate in your body, which can lessen the severity of the disease. Currently, Remdesivir (Veklury®) is an approved injection that can be administered in an outpatient setting or to hospitalized patients. There are also antiviral drugs in a pill form that can treat non-hospitalized patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms with the risk of progressing to severe disease.
What oral medications are available for the treatment of COVID-19 illness?
For persons with COVID-19 who are not hospitalized but are at high risk of severe illness, treatments for COVID-19 are available on a limited basis.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given two oral COVID-19 antiviral medications Emergency Use Authorization (EUA): Paxlovid (Pfizer) and Molnupiravir (Merck).
Are these medications effective?
According to information provided by the manufacturers, Paxlovid (Pfizer) reduces the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by 89% and Molnupiravir (Merck) reduces the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by 30%.
How are these medications taken?
These medications are available as pills. For antiviral pills to be most effective, they need to be taken as early as possible and within five days of illness. Treatment must be started within the first 5 days of illness.
Do I have to have a positive COVID-19 test to take these medications?
Yes. You must have a positive test result for COVID-19 to be eligible to receive these medications. Within the District, testing locations can be found on the DC Health coronavirus website at coronavirus.dc.gov/testing.
Can I take one of these oral antiviral COVID-19 treatments?
Patients are eligible for these medications if they:
- Have positive tests for the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2),
- Are not hospitalized,
- Have mild to moderate illness,
- Have had symptoms for five days or less, and
- Are at high risk to develop severe COVID-19 because of:
- Age 65 years or older
Age > 12 (for Paxlovid) or >18 (for Molnupiravir) and have any of the conditions that increase the risk of severe illness listed by the CDC at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html
What are monoclonal antibodies?
Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the ability of our body’s immune system to fight off harmful pathogens like the virus that causes COVID-19.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for mAbs provides pre-exposure prevention for those with moderate to severely compromised immune systems or a history of severe adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine and/or components of the vaccine.
Can I receive monoclonal antibody treatments?
Evusheld is the only monoclonal antibody that is currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Evusheld is for pre-exposure prophylaxis for prevention of COVID-19 in persons who are immunocompromised.
If you think you are a candidate for mAbs, please call your health care provider to discuss your eligibility and the current availability of mAbs as soon as possible. Treatment must be started within the first few days to be effective. COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatments are available both for adult and pediatric patients.
Where can I receive monoclonal antibody treatment?
You will need a treatment referral from a health care provider to set up an appointment. If you have any questions about the treatment, please ask your provider.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has developed a public-facing COVID-19 therapeutics locator displaying public locations that have received shipments COVID-19 therapeutics. This locator tool can be found at: covid-19-therapeutics-locator-dhhs.hub.arcgis.com/.
These therapies require a prescription by a licensed and authorized provider. The therapeutics locator is intended for provider use. Patients should not contact locations directly unless instructed to do so by their healthcare provider.
How and where can I obtain these medications?
To obtain these medications, you must have a prescription for them from a medical provider licensed to prescribe drugs in the District of Columbia. Please bring your insurance card. The medications themselves are available at no cost. These prescriptions can be filled at:
- Select Pharmacies in Washington, DC including retail pharmacies and healthcare facility outpatient pharmacy locations. Pharmacies may charge a fee to dispense them, but this fee should be covered by health insurance. Click here to search the therapeutics locater and find a pharmacy near you with antiviral medications.
- Test to Treat program
The test to treat program is an additional pathway for fast access to lifesaving COVID-19 treatments and can be found online. A web-based site locator is now available to make it easier to find Test to Treat locations.
Those who may have difficulty accessing the internet or need additional support locating a Test to Treat site can call 1(800) 232-0233 (TTY 1(888) 720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages – 8 am to midnight ET, 7 days a week. The Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) is also available to specifically help people with disabilities access services. To get help, call 1(888) 677-1199, Monday-Friday from 9 am to 8 pm ET or email [email protected].
Where can I find more information on COVID Therapeutics?
More information on these medications is available at these links:
- US Department of Health and Human Services