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Pills to treat COVID-19 arrive in Alabama

Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 5:49 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - COVID-19 tests and treatments are in high demand as COVID-19 cases soar across the state.

There’s a new option available for those who test positive - a pill made specifically to reduce COVID symptoms and avoid hospitalizations for vulnerable populations.

So far, Alabama’s received two shipments of the latest outpatient antiviral treatment pills by Pfizer and Merck.

Pfizer says its oral medication, Paxlovid, is 90 percent successful in prevent serious illness if it’s taken shortly after someone’s infected.

Despite the positive response, Alabama Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris says there’s one problem.

“There’s not nearly enough to go around,” Harris explained. We’re getting a state allocation every couple of weeks of a few hundred doses. We’re having thousands of cases a day – that’s a real challenging situation for us right now.”

The latest records from the Department of Health and Human Services indicate the state’s received nearly 2,000 doses of Paxlovid over the last four weeks. More than 8,000 doses of Merck’s antiviral pill, Molnupiravir, has shipped to the state. It’s important to note, research shows Merck’s oral medication reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by 30 percent.

Individuals need a prescription to receive either medication, it’s currently only available at Walmart.

“We’ve worked with Walmart to make sure they have it evenly spread out across the state, they have the ability to move it around if it’s not being utilized,” Harris confirmed.

What we don’t know: how much is still in stock and the date of the next shipment.

“Ultimately this will be a drug that’s available everywhere at every pharmacy,” Harris added.

Patients can search this link to determine which Walmart stores carry the oral treatments.

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