Canada has approved the first oral COVID-19 treatment that can be taken at home. The drug, an antiviral developed by Pfizer, was found to reduce risk of hospitalization and death by 89 percent in clinical trials.
At the moment, there is a “limited global supply” of the drug, thus Canadian health officials have prioritized the following at-risk groups to be supplied with the first shipments as they become available:
- People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and may not be able to produce an adequate immune response to infection, regardless of vaccination status
- People over the age of 80 who may have received only 1-2 vaccine doses
- People over the age of 60 who live in “undeserved rural or remote communities” in a “long-term care setting,” or those living in or from First Nations or Metis communities who may have received 0-2 doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine
In December, the government of Canada inked a deal with Pfizer for one million treatment courses of Paxlovid, and their goal remains to establish a delivery schedule as soon as possible. So far, an initial shipment of just over 30,000 treatment courses has been delivered, with another 120,000 to arrive in the country between now and the end of March.
“We know that the unvaccinated are at a higher risk of getting severe outcomes and getting hospitalized and ending up in the ICU. So this is evidence, and we’re following that evidence. As health care providers, you don’t pick and choose which patients you have coming into the hospital and getting treated. And so I think this approach ensures that we are prioritizing treatments for those most in need,” stated Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Ontario.
You can read more about Paxlovid and what its development means for the future of COVID-19 treatment here: