TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Two recently approved anti-viral pills are now available to some high-risk COVID-19 patients in New Jersey, along with other preventative therapies.
It’s been described as the Omicron tsunami. The number of patients in the ICU and on ventilators is as high as May of 2020.READ MORE: New York Workers' Compensation Board Offers Resources For COVID Long Haulers
Two recently approved oral anti-viral pills are now available in the state by prescription to high-risk COVID patients.
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Dr. David Adinaro, with the New Jersey Department of Health, told CBS2’s Meg Baker these therapeutics could ease the strain on the health care system.
“PAXLOVID and molnupiravir,” he said. “People who are COVID-positive within five days, who have significant risks of in terms of underlying conditions, chronic conditions, things along those lines, you get a prescription, and it’s an oral medicine. So it’s a pill and you would take it for five days.”
The therapeutics can help stop the disease from proliferating.
The anti-viral pills have been shipped to 50 Walgreens locations in New Jersey.READ MORE: Mask-Less Children Join Parents At Rally On Long Island Protesting State Mask Mandate
Dr. Richard Barakat, with the Northwell Health Cancer Institute in New York, says these anti-virals, in addition to a new monoclonal preventative, an injectable medication received every six months, could save the lives of those who are immunocompromised, like cancer patients, specifically with leukemia and lymphoma.
“It’s really not done to treat COVID-19, but it’s really being given to prevent patients who are at higher risk from getting a COVID infection, and specifically patients who are immunocompromised for various reasons. We know that those patients tend not to form a good antibody response to vaccines. So this is a way of ensuring that those patients are protected as much as possible from getting COVID-19,” he said.
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Dr. Perry Halkitis, with Rutgers School of Public Health, warns prevention should still be prioritized over anti-viral therapeutics.
“Therapeutics require you to interact with your health care provider and it requires that you have health care that’s going to cover that therapeutics. It requires that you have to go to the pharmacy to get the therapeutics,” Halkitis said.
New Jersey has been allotted 6,000 doses of anti-virals from the federal government.
It’s at a doctor’s discretion to determine if high-risk patients are eligible for these therapeutics.MORE NEWS: New York City Schools Announce New COVID Isolation Rules Starting Next Week
CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report.