Beating the COVID surge this winter with expanded COVID treatments

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

Omicron sub variants continued to account for more new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. in the latest week than did BA.5, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, known U.S. cases are up 53% from two weeks ago. The daily average for hospitalizations is up 30% at 37,066, while the daily average for deaths is up 35% to 460.

The winter holidays are expected to bring with them a surge in symptomatic COVID cases. But treatment is available to mitigate the impact of the illness and prevent its severity, can lead people to test negative sooner, and early evidence suggests that COVID treatment may lower the risk of long COVID. EMS briefing on Dec 8 physicians and specialists explained about the COVID therapeutics available for treating the illness in adults and some teens, and the necessity of accessing treatment early in the illness for it to work.

During her presentation, Assistant Health Officer for the State of California and the Director of Population Health at the California Department of Public Health Dr. Rita Nguyen highlighted the progress that has been made in the development of COVID treatments since the start of the pandemic. This is the first winter surge of a three-year pandemic where we actually have treatments that are highly effective, readily available and free to the public, and we know that most folks aren’t accessing it. Treatments must be taken within 5-7 days of when symptoms begin. So if you start to feel sick, act fast to get a COVID-19 test and free treatment.

Antiviral treatments stop the virus from multiplying in your body and infecting more of your cells, which can stop COVID-19 illness from becoming serious and also help you to test negative sooner. These include pills called Paxlovid and Molnupiravir that can be taken at-home. There is also Remdesivir, which is usually given by a health care provider by IV, said Dr Rita.

Dr. Oliver Brooks is the Chief Medical Officer and past Chief of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at Watts Healthcare Corporation in Los Angeles, California said, “In terms of treatment, it doesn’t work if you don’t take it or get it offered. So as a person, you need to advocate. You need to know about treatments. “I believe that it’s really important to have that focus on ensuring that you do have access because the access will not occur if you don’t test, and if it’s not even offered to you.”

The CDPH estimates that the use of Paxlovid in California has prevented between 16,000 and 48,000 hospitalizations and between 4,800 and 10,000 deaths. In addition to ethnic and racial disparities with access to COVID-19 treatments, there is a disparity among older adults, 65 years of age and older, who account for nearly 90% of COVID-19 deaths in the United States.

You have multiple options to get COVID-19 pill medications for free. You do not need to have insurance or U.S. citizenship. For more information about COVID-19 treatments and help with finding treatment, call the statewide COVID-19 hotline at 833-422-4255.

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