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First at-home prescription medication for COVID-19 approved for use in Canada


Canadian health officials now have another weapon to use in the battle against COVID-19 after Health Canada approved Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid.

Paxlovid is the first oral and at-home prescription medication to be cleared for use in Canada and can be given to adults aged 18 and older to treat mild to moderate cases of COVID-19, if they have a confirmed positive test and are at a high-risk of becoming seriously ill.

“It’s for those who have significant underlying health conditions. It’s not meant for treatment in hospital but it’s for early treatment fairly quickly after symptoms start,” says Dr. Heather Morrison, Prince Edward Island's chief public health officer.

Canada pre-ordered 1 million courses of the treatment. As of Monday, 30,400 have been delivered.

As a result, priority use will be given to people who:

  • are immunocompromised, regardless of their vaccination status
  • are over the age of 60 living in remote communities
  • are in long-term care homes
  • are in first nations communities
  • are aged 80 and over who are not fully vaccinated

“It’s finally a solution to frankly stopping people from dying,” says Bill VanGorder, spokesperson with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP).

VanGorder says he's confident the new drug will help those who are sick overcome the virus.

“People over 80 who aren’t vaccinated are the ones who generally are most at risk," he says.

The treatment involves taking three pills made up of two different drugs, twice a day for five days.

“I think Canadians should be very happy today to hear that the oral antivirals are beginning to become available in Canada,” says Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer.

In a statement, a spokesperson with Nova Scotia's Department of Health and Wellness points out not everyone will need or benefit from the pill.

"Based on research, it is only specific groups at high-risk of progression who we know may benefit from this medication. Paxlovid does not replace a COVID-19 vaccine and being unvaccinated is not, by itself, an indication for the use of this medication," reads the statement.

Another 120,000 treatment courses of Paxlovid are expected to arrive in the country by the end of March.

Canada has an option to secure another half million if they are needed. Top Stories

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