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Paxlovid is available in Alberta, the process to get it is 'complicated': doctor


People who become infected with COVID-19 and meet specific criteria are eligible for a new treatment in Alberta.

Health Canada recently approved the use of Paxlovid, a treatment developed by Pfizer to treat mild to moderate COVID-19.

The Canadian government secured a million full doses of the drug, Alberta’s share of that arrived Monday.

Due to the short supply of Paxlovid in the province, there are specific conditions people need to meet in order to get it.

“There are a lot of people who could be eligible for this and, potentially, used well this could take pressure off our hospital systems, by virtue of preventing people getting so sick that they’re required to go to hospital,” said Dr. Noel Gibney, a critical care doctor.

In order to qualify for Paxlovid, an unvaccinated person has to be 65 or older, or be at least 18 and have a pre-existing health condition such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with moderate-to-severe asthma

Unvaccinated pregnant women are also eligible for Paxlovid, along with vaccinated or unvaccinated people who are immunocompromised because:

  • They received a transplant
  • Is an oncology patient who has received a dose of immunosuppressive treatment since December 2020
  • Have an inflammatory condition and received any systemic immunosuppressive treatment since December 2020

In order to be effective, patients must start taking Paxlovid within five days of the onset of COVID-19 symptoms.

To get a dose of Paxlovid, there are several steps patients must take, including getting a positive PCR test and calling Health Link to determine if you meet the eligibility criteria.

The province limited PCR testing in January due to increased demand from the rapidly spreading Omicron variant. Groups that remained eligible for PCR tests included health-care workers in specific settings, continuing care residents and hospital patients who develop COVID-19 symptoms.

According to the Alberta Health Service website, people with symptoms who are eligible for Paxlovid or sotrovimab, another treatment for COVID-19, are now also eligible for PCR tests.

Another reason patients have to be assessed before getting Paxlovid, is that it could interact with medications someone is currently taking.

“There are a large number of medications, particularly cardiac medications and other anti-viral medications, for example HIV and some other ones, that can have serious interactions with Paxlovid,” said Gibney.

People who aren’t eligible for Paxlovid could still be eligible for sotrovimab, more information on both treatments is available on the AHS website.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson Top Stories

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