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COVID-19 Treatments

Effective August 30, 2022, the eligibility criteria for Paxlovid and remdesivir has been expanded to include an additional course of therapy for new and distinct COVID-19 infections in eligible patients.

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.

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.

There is no cost for COVID-19 treatments in Saskatchewan.

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1. Antiviral medications: Paxlovid™

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 physician or nurse practitioner taking into consideration patient risks, current medications, and underlying conditions.

Paxlovid Eligibility

Eligibility criteria is fairly strict and residents will be screened by their physician or nurse practitioner to ensure they meet the criteria.

Paxlovid is only recommended for adults over 18 who:

  • are diagnosed with mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms;
  • are within five days of developing symptoms;
  • do not have any medical conditions that would make treatment inappropriate;
  • are not taking any medications that may cause potential drug interactions; and
  • if you are immunocompromised, regardless of vaccination status;
  • 70 years and older with designated risk factors, regardless of vaccination status or
  • meet one of the following criteria:
    • have a medical condition that puts you at high risk and are not up-to-date on your vaccinations; or
    • are 55 to 69 years old and not up-to-date on your vaccinations.

Contact your nurse practitioner or physician if you suspect you have COVID-19. 

You cannot go directly to a health care provider to receive antiviral medication. You will be provided a prescription based on the eligibility criteria. Stay home if you are ill and arrange for curbside pickup of medication if possible.

Pharmacies Dispensing Paxlovid

View map of pharmacies dispensing

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2. Antiviral medication: Remdesivir

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.

Remdesivir Eligibility

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:

  • test positive (PCR or rapid test) with mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms;
  • are within seven days of developing symptoms;
  • do not have any medical conditions that would make treatment inappropriate;
  • are not taking any medications that may cause potential drug interactions;
  • if you are immunocompromised, regardless of vaccination status;
  • 70 years and older with designated risk factors, regardless of vaccination status or
  • meet one of the following criteria:
    • have a medical condition that puts you at high risk and are not up-to-date on your vaccinations; or
    • are 55 to 69 years old and not up-to-date on your vaccinations.

You cannot receive remdesivir directly from your primary health care provider or through pharmacists. You must be referred based on the eligibility criteria.

Effective August 30, 2022, the eligibility criteria for remdesivir has been expanded to include an additional course of therapy for new and distinct COVID-19 infections in eligible patients.

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