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Antiviral medications may be used in early treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 illness in unvaccinated and certain vaccinated patients who are at high risk for progression to severe illness that may require hospitalization.
Antiviral treatments Paxlovid™ and remdesivir help reduce the viral load of COVID-19 virus in the body. They are not used to prevent COVID-19 infection before you test positive. Treatments are only effective when initiated in the very early phase of infection.
While most vaccinated people have enough immunity to fight COVID-19 infection, those that are unvaccinated, have a weaker immune system or are 70 years and older and at high risk of severe outcomes may benefit from antiviral therapy reducing the viral load that the immune system has to overcome.
Note: As of April 7, 2022, the monoclonal antibody sotrovimab was suspended for use in Saskatchewan due to its reduced efficacy against Omicron's BA.2 subvariant. Future recommendations regarding the use of sotrovimab and early therapeutics will continue to be guided by emerging evidence.
Treatment for COVID-19 is Not a Substitute for Vaccination
Treatment for COVID-19 does not offer equal protection to vaccination. Getting your first, second and all recommended booster doses remains the most important intervention to reduce risk of hospitalization and other severe outcomes from COVID-19. Find a vaccination clinic near you.
Treatment with Paxlovid must start within five days of symptom onset. The medication consists of three tablets taken every 12 hours for five days.
The decision to prescribe an antiviral medication will be made by a pharmacists or HealthLine 811 taking into consideration patient risks, current medications, and underlying conditions.
Eligibility criteria is fairly strict and residents will be screened by their participating pharmacist, physician, nurse practitioner or through HealthLine 811 to ensure they meet the criteria.
Paxlovid is only recommended for adults over 18 who:
If you test positive for COVID-19 on a rapid antigen test or a PCR test and believe you may meet all the criteria for Paxlovid treatment, call a participating pharmacist, HealthLine 811 or a nurse practitioner. Stay home if you are ill and arrange for curbside pickup of medication if possible.
You cannot go directly to a health care provider to receive antiviral medication. You will be provided a prescription based on the eligibility criteria.
Treatment with remdesivir must start within seven days of symptom onset. This is an intravenous treatment of at least 60 minutes for three, consecutive days.
The decision to prescribe remdesivir will be made by the treating clinician, taking into consideration patient risks, current medications, and underlying conditions.
A health care provider will review your symptoms, eligibility, and other factors to determine whether this treatment is appropriate.
Remdesivir is only recommended for adults over 18 who:
If you test positive for COVID-19 on a rapid antigen test or a PCR test and believe you may meet all the criteria for COVID-19 treatment, call HealthLine 811. You will receive additional screening and be referred appropriately.
You cannot receive remdesivir directly from your primary health care provider or through pharmacists. You must be referred based on the eligibility criteria.
Additional risk factors for those who are not fully vaccinated may include:
People who are fully vaccinated but otherwise immunocompromised could also be eligible for COVID-19 treatment. Immunocompromised conditions include, but are not limited to:
If you think you are eligible for Remdesivir or Paxlovid™ or if you have further questions, please call Healthline 811 to speak with a nurse.
Evusheld™ is a one-time treatment, which is administered by a qualified health care provider as two ventrogluteal intramuscular (IM) injections.
Evusheld™ is available in Saskatchewan for pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19 in adults and adolescents (12 years of age or older), weighing at least 40 kg, who have NOT had a known recent exposure to an individual affected with COVID-19 and:
If Evusheld™ is being considered for use, it should be on a case-by-case basis where the potential benefit is expected to outweigh any potential risk. Consult your prescriber (physician or nurse practitioner) to discuss whether this is an option for you. Evusheld™ is only available if a prescription is issued by your prescriber.
In Saskatchewan, the case-by-case use of Evusheld™ should be limited to patients who:
At time of administration, confirm individual:
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