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Antiviral medications

now available in MB

      PAXLOVID
 
Pfizer’s Paxlovid is designed to treat COVID-19 infections at home (Photo courtesy of Hartford Healthcare)

The Manitoba government announced on January 24 a key update that may prove to be a significant step in the continuing fight against COVID-19.

Oral antiviral medications are now available in Manitoba for the treatment of COVID-19. When a virus causes infection, one thing it does is make copies of itself. This is an important part of what a virus needs to do to cause illness. Oral antiviral treatment stops the COVID-19 virus from copying itself, which helps prevent severe illness and may help you get better faster. Oral antiviral treatment comes in the form of a pill taken by mouth as prescribed. This treatment must be started within five days of symptom onset. The current antiviral treatment is Nirmatrelvir/Ritonavir (Paxlovid).

The eligibility criteria for available treatment options for COVID-19 (both Paxlovid and monoclonal antibodies) have expanded to include some fully vaccinated individuals (two doses of an approved two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single dose vaccine), with the second dose (or single dose for one dose vaccine) administered more than four months ago. These individuals must also meet other criteria related to age and comorbidity.

While treatment helps reduce serious outcomes caused by COVID-19, authorities stress that it is not a substitute for full vaccination.

To qualify, a person must have a positive COVID-19 test, have symptoms that began within the last five to seven days, and meet the criteria in one of the five categories listed:

Category 1

  • Be unvaccinated or partially vaccinated; and
  • Have no prior history of COVID-19 infection; and
  • Be older than 40 years of age; OR

Category 2

  • Be unvaccinated or partially vaccinated; and
  • Have no prior history of COVD-19 infection; and
  • Be 18-40 years old; and
  • Have a serious health condition which may include diabetes, smoking, obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease, or cancer; OR

Category 3

  • Be 18 years or older (regardless of whether you are vaccinated or previously infected with COVID-19); and
  • Be immunocompromised due to a medical condition or treatment; OR

Category 4

  • Be Indigenous and 40 years or older; and
  • Have no prior history of COVID-19 infection; and
  • Be fully vaccinated but you have not received a third dose and it has been more than four months since your last dose (or you received your third dose, and it has been less than 14 days since your dose); and
  • Have a serious health condition which may include diabetes, smoking, obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease, or cancer; OR

Category 5

  • Be 50 years or older; and
  • Have no prior history of COVID-19 infection; and
  • Be fully vaccinated but you have not received a third dose and it has been more than four months since your last dose (or you received your third dose, and it has been less than 14 days since your dose); and
  • Have a serious health condition which may include diabetes, smoking, obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease, or cancer.

All people must be able to receive treatment within the specific timeframe required to be eligible. Different treatments must be given within either 5 or 7 days of symptom onset.

If anyone meets all eligibility criteria and their self-administered rapid antigen test shows a positive result, they may be referred for treatment. Contact a health care provider or Health Links at 204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257 to confirm eligibility and the location where one may be able to receive treatment. A health care provider will repeat a rapid test to confirm the self-administered test result if a PCR test result isn’t available at the time of the assessment.

Update

Public health orders currently in place will continue for an additional week as Manitoba continues to assess the spread and impact of the Omicron variant, Health Minister Audrey Gordon announced on Friday, January 28. Current orders will be extended until Tuesday, February 8. Manitoba remains at the Orange (Restricted) level under the Pandemic Response System.

Source: Government of Manitoba