WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday.
- Despite saying she had “no symptoms,” it was reported that she was taking Pfizer’s antiviral pill.
- Paxlovid was designed to treat patients with severe cases.
Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday and reported that she had “no symptoms.” Her spokesperson Kirsten Allen announced the same day that Harris would be taking Paxlovid, Pfizer’s antiviral pill.
Former Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted: “Asymptomatic covid and no medical issues isn’t an indication for Paxlovid.”
Paxlovid is designed to treat patients who are at high risk of developing severe COVID. The CDC says that adults aged 50 and older are more likely to get severely ill with the virus. Harris is 57 years old.
In December, Pfizer said that Paxlovid could reduce the risk of hospitalization or death among high-risk adults by 89%. People who are at high risk are those who have underlying medical conditions, such as cancer, kidney disease, lung disease and diabetes, among others.
While the VP is asymptomatic, she is doing what many health experts say more people need to take — begin the treatment course before her disease progressed, according to Caitlin Owens of Axios.
In a statement, Allen said that Harris was prescribed Paxlovid after consulting with her physicians.
According to the FDA, patients should take Paxlovid “as soon as possible after diagnosis of COVID-19 and within five days of symptom onset.” Paxlovid is most effective when taken early in the course of the disease.
Currently, the federal government is getting 175,000 doses of Paxlovid available to the public every week, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. These doses are then distributed to states and territories.
Pharmacies will be able to order Paxlovid directly from the government starting this week.
The Biden administration is also organizing “test-to-treat” sites where Americans can get tested. If they have a positive result, they will be prescribed and given Paxlovid.
Health officials want physicians to be prescribing the pills more liberally.
“Any high risk person should have it. Timing really matters. The earlier the better. People should not wait until they develop symptoms to start taking it,” Leana Wen, emergency physician and professor at George Washington University, told Axios.