There is hope that Health Canada will approve Pfizer’s antiviral COVID-19 treatment will help ease the burden on the country’s healthcare system as hospital admissions continue to steadily increase.
The pill uses a combination of two antiviral drugs to prevent the virus that is causing it COVID-19 from replicating once it has infected a patient, but health authorities stress that it is not a substitute for vaccinations.
“Getting vaccinated is still the best prevention for COVID disease, especially serious illness, hospitalization or death,” said Dr. Supriya Sharma, Chief Medical Officer at Health Canada.
“But in reality, there are some groups that potentially do not have that immune response, either because they are unvaccinated, undervaccinated, or they have an immune problem, or they have other risk factors. So this is really one drug in that area to try to prevent hospitalization and death. ”
Clinical trials showed that treatment with Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization and death caused by COVID-19 by 89 percent when the medicine was started within three days after the onset of symptoms, and by 85 percent when it was started within five days.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief physician, noted that delivery of Paxlovid will be an early issue, meaning treatment is unlikely to have a major impact on the current Omicron wave.
COVID-19: O’Toole says Pfizer’s Paxlovid shipment of 30,000 courses is ‘inadequate’
Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Canada has already received its first shipment of 30,000 courses of treatment for the Pfizer drug, with a further 120,000 expected by March.
Distribution to provinces and territories will begin immediately, with priority given to patients who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and do not provide adequate protection against COVID-19 with vaccines.
It includes people over the age of 80 whose vaccines are out of date and those 60 and older who live in rural or underserved communities, including First Nation, Inuit, and Metis people whose vaccinations are out of date.
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