Life-saving oral antivirals can help Mississippians avoid the most severe symptoms of the coronavirus

Coronavirus cases are increasing across Mississippi, and health officials say anyone 12 and older should seek antiviral or monoclonal treatments to protect against the most severe symptoms. Last week, the FDA granted emergency use authorization for the oral antiviral drug PAXLOVID for distribution in pharmacies. State epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers says vaccines and treatments such as PAXLOVID have helped keep the current death rate low.

Dr Byers says: “It has been shown to reduce the development of serious complications and hospitalizations by 88-90% if taken early in this disease, within the first five days. And it’s a great drug to use especially for high-risk people.

PAXLOVID has been widely used in clinical settings for months. Now that it is available in pharmacies, experts say there needs to be extra levels of caution when prescribing it. Olivia Strain, vice president of the Mississippi Pharmacists Association, says the Department of Health has provided guidelines for determining who can and cannot qualify.

“And it goes through medical history, they have to answer yes or no for those questions to qualify,” Strain says. “And he lists a whole bunch of drugs to say ‘if they’re taking this, they don’t need to take PAXLOVID. They need to talk to their provider. “

Vaccines for the coronavirus remain the most effective way to prevent serious illness, and experts say Mississippians who have already tested positive should see their doctor about monoclonal antibodies or oral antivirals.

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