By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
The first shipment of the medication, Paxlovid, was made available to select Albertans on Jan. 31. The oral medication, developed by Pfizer, was approved earlier this month and is being marketed as another tool to reduce severe health outcomes in individuals with mild to moderate illness who have contracted the COVID-19 virus, as an at-home treatment for COVID-19. Alberta Minister of Health, Jason Copping said in a live update on Jan. 25 the first shipment contains treatment for 3,200 eligible Albertans, but more will be on the way as soon as more becomes available.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in a recent release, “It’s important that we keep as many Albertans out of hospital as possible. Having Paxlovid available for Albertans to use in their homes is just one more way we can do that. Due to supply and where it will provide the most benefit, access to Paxlovid will be limited initially, but we will continue to press the federal government for more supplies.”
Although at-home treatments continue to hit the market and offer an added tool to treat COVID-19, Copping is urging Albertans to get fully vaccinated, if they have not yet done so.
“Making treatment options like Paxlovid available, combined with Alberta’s robust vaccine rollout, offers the best protection against severe COVID-19 outcomes.”
Adding that, “I continue to encourage every Albertan to get fully vaccinated, especially if they are now eligible for a booster.”
With the current limited availability, only eligible Albertans may be able to receive a prescription for the at-home treatment. The pill is taken orally, and treatment must be started within the first five days of symptom onset.
Eligible Albertans must be 18 or older with specific medical conditions which pose higher risks of severe health outcomes with COVID-19 infection or be 65 older and unvaccinated, as well as be administered a PCR test which indicates infection with the virus.
Due to the extremely limited supply, only select pharmacies across the province received the initial shipment, but Copping said the procurement process is underway, and as the supply increases, so too will province-wide accessibility. In the meantime, Copping and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw are asking Albertans not to call pharmacies or physician offices directly to inquire at this time, but can call Health Link at 1-844-343-0971.