The rollout of the US government’s Covid-19 test-to-treat program is underway, with in-pharmacy clinics ordering shipments of Covid-19 antiviral medications and some locations expecting to offer the service within days.
“We’ve had more than 1,000 pharmacy-based clinic sites register today, so that even exceeded our expectations for Day One of this program,” Dr. Tom Inglesby, senior adviser to the White House’s Covid-19 Response Team, told CNN on Monday.
The Covid-19 antiviral pills Paxlovid and molnupiravir are already available for free in the United States, but quick access can be challenging for some people.
Last week, in its new National Covid-19 Preparedness Plan, the White House announced the test-to-treat initiative, in which people can visit “one-stop” sites that offer free Covid-19 testing and that prescribe free antiviral pills on the spot if they test positive.
“If you get Covid-19, the Pfizer pill reduces your chances of ending up in the hospital by 90%,” President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address last week. “I’ve ordered more pills than anyone in the world has. Pfizer is working overtime to get us a million pills this month and more than double that next month.”
Here’s what you need to know about getting the Covid-19 medicines that you can take at home through the test-to-treat program.
When will test-to-treat services begin?
Although the ordering of Covid-19 antiviral medications is now underway, the orders have to be delivered to sites before they can be prescribed. Patients are expected to be able to receive Covid-19 antivirals through the test-to-treat program at some sites later this week.
The medicines haven’t been delivered to the sites yet, but “they’re going to be making their way there,” Inglesby told CNN on Monday.
“The ordering process has launched today in pharmacy-based clinics around the country,” he said, adding that as orders for the antiviral medications come in, shipments will be sorted out within a day or so.
Where can I get test-to-treat services?
The “one-stop” test-to-treat locations will be available at hundreds of sites nationwide, including pharmacies that have clinics, federally qualified health centers and long-term care facilities, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Certain pharmacies across the United States – including CVS, Walgreens and Walmart – have confirmed to CNN that some of their locations are preparing to participate in the test-to-treat program, such as Minute Clinic locations in CVS pharmacies.