There's been a new tool introduced to the state of New Jersey in the fight against the deadly corona virus. Over the past week, two new antiviral pills have been delivered to pharmacies in more than 30 states across the country and over 50 New Jersey Walgreens locations.
The long awaited pill comes at a crucial time as hospitals scramble for aid as the Omicron variant surges across the country.
The pill could potentially simplify the treatment process for COVID-19 positive patients who are at a high risk for severe illness. Within time, the FDA hopes to authorize this pill to specifically keep patients out of the hospital altogether.
Last month, both Pfizer's pill, Paxlovid and Merck's Molnupiravir were authorized for at-home use. Currently, the Paxloid pill has shown to be more effective in reducing the chances of hospitalization or death for COVID patients with a 90% success rate. However, Federal officials have stated that both pills have been proven highly successful in treating patients with the Omicron variant.
The antiviral pills have limited availability and as of right now, they are not made available for everyone.
The pills are authorized for those who are experiencing mild or moderate symptoms and are likely to become severely ill. People who are immunocompromised, have heart or lung disease, and are 65+ years old are considered a part of this demographic. Pfizer's pill is approved for those who are 12 and older, whereas Merck's pill is only intended for those who are 18 and older because it has been proven that it can interfere with bone growth in children.
The pill also cannot be taken at any time, there is a very specific time window in which the pill is at its most successful. It is currently recommended to take the pill within 5 days of the start of symptoms. Meaning that, those who are already hospitalized are not recommended to take the pill.
To receive the pill from your local Walgreens store you must present a prescription from a doctor or other authorized health worker. For a list of all pharmacy locations in New Jersey who currently have the pill, you can click here.
While this is a huge development in the fight against the virus, experts are still warning that this pill is not a substitute to vaccination. Experts recommend that boosters and vaccinations are still the best way to protect yourself from experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms.