COVID pills to be administered more quickly under White House initiative, doctors say

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The White House is rolling out a plan designed to help people through the "new normal" and prepare for future COVID-19 variants. Local pharmacists are particularly happy to see an initiative included that aims to administer COVID-19 pills more quickly and efficiently.

Hayat Pharmacy has been administering Paxlovid and molnupiravir, the antiviral COVID-19 pills, for several months. However, it's not a perfect system.

"It's one of those medications that -- the sooner you start, the more effective it is," Dr. Hashim Zaibak, CEO of Hayat Pharmacy.

Patients have to start taking the pills within five days of COVID-19 symptoms. They have to take three pills in the morning and three pills in the evening for five days.

But first, they need a positive COVID-19 test.

"I think we've all been through that: Is my nose stuffy? Is this something? Is it nothing? So maybe you wait a couple of days, you finally go get your test, but there's a delay in getting the test (and) delay in getting the results. All of a sudden it's day four or five. And now you need to find someone who could prescribe it and someplace that has it," said Dr. Bartho Caponi, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

That is exactly the goal of the new "Test and Treat" initiative from the White House. Dr. Cameron Webb is the senior policy adviser for equity on the White House COVID-19 Response Team.

"We want to save as many lives as possible. We want to prevent as many hospitalizations as possible," Webb told CBS 58.

Under the White House's initiative, people will be able to go to pharmacies, clinics and federally qualified health centers to get tested and given the antiviral COVID-19 pills for free.

The White House says Pfizer is working to deliver a million courses of its COVID-19 pill this month.

"For providers all over the country who are hoping to have more of this to save the lives of their patients, more is on the way," Webb said.

Families will also be able to order another round of free rapid COVID-19 tests online starting next week.

Doctors say prevention is always better than treatment, so the COVID-19 pills should not be thought of as a substitute to getting vaccinated.

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