Wisconsin receives first shipment of antiviral pills to treat COVID-19

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 11:01 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Wisconsin received its first supply Wednesday of antiviral COVID-19 pills to treat those with mild to moderate symptoms from the virus, the Department of Health Services announced.

DHS stated the initial supply of the treatments, molnupiravir and Paxlovid, are available in limited supply. The first week of allocations includes 940 courses of Paxlovid and 4,320 of molnupiravir.

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake told Wisconsinites that while the antiviral pills may be able to treat COVID-19, it is not a substitution for wearing a mask and getting vaccinated.

“We anticipate high demand for these medications, and we know that the initial supply we are receiving will be extremely limited,” Timerlake said. “Please be patient as providers will prioritize people at highest risk for developing serious illness from the virus.”

Chief Medical Officer at DHS Dr. Jonathan Meiman said that as hospitals are filling up across the state, the agency hopes these antiviral medications can help reduce severe illness.

“As our hospitals approach capacity and the Omicron variant spreads rapidly in Wisconsin, antiviral pills will help prevent severe disease,” Meiman said. “Since these medications are most effective early in the course of the virus, it is urgent that people at risk for severe COVID-19 get tested at the first sign of illness and seek medical care so their provider can determine if they should receive these pills.”

DHS advised health care providers to prescribe the medication to those who are the greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19.  The agency is working to give out the pills equitably across the state and noted its supply will increase as the state receives more from the federal government.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorizations for two pills to be taken at home, which should be taken within five days of when someone’s symptoms occur.

People over the age of 12 who do not take certain medications may take Paxlovid. Those who are 18 years or older and are not pregnant or breastfeeding may take molnupiravir.

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