Mississippi health officials say antiviral medications being underutilized in the fight against COVID-19

Published: Feb. 11, 2022 at 7:21 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -COVID case numbers are improving. However, for those who get a positive test, there’s treatment out there, and thousands of doses are available in Mississippi right now.

“We are not through the COVID pandemic. We have a way to go,” described State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “We’re certainly in a lot better shape than we were some weeks ago. But we have unused tools in our toolbox, and we want to make sure that everyone is aware that they are available and can help save Mississippi lives.”

Those unused tools are antiviral pills. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs notes how the state embraced the use of monoclonal antibodies. Only 347 doses of those remained in the state as of Friday morning. And unlike during the Delta surge, there’s only one that’s helpful against the Omicron variant.

“Mississippi was really a leader in the use of these effective treatments for COVID,” said Dr. Dobbs. “Now we have a new generation of treatments that are available to us. We want to make sure that people know about know how to access them.”

Here’s what to expect if you’re prescribed one of these treatments. With Paxlovid, you’ll take three pills twice a day and molnupiravir four pills twice a day. Both for a total of five days. But it’s important to note that you have to start treatment within five days of the onset of symptoms for it to be effective.

“My patients who have used them have uniformly given them positive reviews,” said Dr. Mark Horne, Chief Medical Officer at South Central Regional Medical Center. “It is effective at reducing that greatest risk of going to the hospital getting seriously ill, and unfortunately people are dying from omicron.”

“I can tell you from treating patients without antivirals available, they are very effective, and patients feel better, much more quickly,” described MSDH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dan Edney. “I personally, Dr. Dobbs, have not seen a better viral failure yet in the outpatient world. It is excellent.”

And you will need to talk to your doctor, not only for getting the prescription but knowing about how these drugs interact with others. Dobbs says Paxlovid is very effective but has more drug interactions, while molnupiravir isn’t quite as effective but has fewer drug interactions.

There’s also supply available of a monoclonal antibody prevention medicine for people who are immunocompromised.

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