New at-home COVID-19 treatment on its way to Alberta
Albertans with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms who are at high risk of developing serious disease will soon have a second option for early treatment.
The first shipments of Paxlovid will be available to Albertans starting Jan. 31. Initial supply will be limited, so eligibility will be limited to those who will benefit the most. This medication can cause side effects, so it will be available only by prescription after an assessment by a clinician.
Paxlovid is the first COVID-19 treatment approved by Health Canada that can be taken orally at home and the second COVID-19 early treatment option available in Alberta after Sotrovimab was made available last year.
Treatment with the medication must be started within five days of the onset of symptoms and is intended for use by individuals who have immunosuppressive conditions, are unvaccinated and over the age of 65, or are unvaccinated and over 18 with pre-existing medical conditions that put them at higher risk of severe illness or death.
“It’s important that we keep as many Albertans out of hospital as possible. Having Paxlovid available for Albertans to use in their homes is just one more way we can do that. Due to supply and where it will provide the most benefit, access to Paxlovid will be limited initially, but we will continue to press the federal government for more supplies.”Jason Kenney, Premier
“Making treatment options like Paxlovid available, combined with Alberta’s robust vaccine rollout, offers the best protection against severe COVID-19 outcomes. Thank you to every Albertan who has chosen to protect themselves, their families and their community by getting vaccinated. I continue to encourage every Albertan to get fully vaccinated, especially if they are now eligible for a booster.”Jason Copping, Minister of Health
“We have established the current eligibility criteria to ensure that those who are most at risk and who have no contraindications are able to access this treatment in a timely manner, helping to keep COVID from progressing to a more serious stage. If you are eligible, please contact Health Link as soon as your COVID-19 is confirmed to discuss options for treatment.”Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health
Eligibility for Paxlovid
Paxlovid is for use in patients who have a confirmed COVID-19 infection, are within five days of experiencing their first symptoms and meet certain medical criteria.
Eligible conditions include:
Individuals who have no contraindications and one of the following immunocompromising conditions, regardless of vaccination status:
- transplant recipients
- oncology patients who have received chemotherapy or other immunosuppressive treatment since December 2020
- inflammatory conditions, such as:
- rheumatoid arthritis;
- inflammatory bowel disease;
Individuals who have no contraindications, are unvaccinated and:
- age 65 and older
- age 18 and older with a pre-existing health condition, including:
- diabetes (taking medication for treatment)
- obesity (BMI >30)
- congestive heart failure
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and moderate to severe asthma
Albertans who meet the eligibility criteria can call Health Link at 1-844-343-0971.
HealthLink staff will ask screening questions and refer Albertans to a health professional to confirm eligibility and arrange for treatment, if appropriate.
Albertans are asked not to call pharmacies or physician offices directly.
Booking vaccination appointments
Albertans are encouraged to do their part to protect themselves and others from severe outcomes by getting every vaccine dose they are eligible for. Appointments can be booked online with participating pharmacies or AHS by using the Alberta vaccine booking system. Albertans can also call 811, participating pharmacies or participating physicians’ offices.
Senior Press Secretary, Health