President Biden’s Test to Treat plan will allow people to test for COVID at a pharmacy and if positive, get effective new drugs. But it’s currently dysfunctional. Biden needs to kick ass and make sure Test to Treat is operational and known to everyone particularly pharmacists throughout the country, says an article published in Forbes.
We now have wonderful new drugs to treat COVID. Paxlovid, produced by Pfizer, is an example. But half of these medications aren’t being prescribed. Indeed, many go to waste, sitting on the shelves of pharmacies until their expiration dates.
COVID anti-viral on the spot
In his State of the Union Address, on March 2nd, President Biden announced his Test to Treat Initiative that will allow people to get tested for COVID at a pharmacy and, if their test is positive, receive a treatment round of Paxlovid or a similar COVID anti-viral “on the spot and at no cost.”
Yes, it’s ironic that Trump did more re COVID for the Blues (who are disproportionately vaccinated) than the Reds (who are disproportionately anti-vaccination) and Biden is doing more re COVID for the Reds than the Blues, since the disproportionately un-vaccinated Reds will benefit relatively more from COVID therapy than the Blues. Amen to both for their efforts. Yet, Trump failed to get enough people vaccinated and Biden is failing to get enough people treated.
Ramp up production
Biden needs to kick ass and make sure Test to Treat is operational and known to everyone, particularly pharmacists throughout the country. If this requires ramping up production of Paxlovid and Molnupiravir, Merck’s comparable med, ramp up production!
(An aside: And make enough to supply the rest of the world, which is significantly under-vaccinated. Imagine the benefit this would provide China today, which has, reports have it, locked down to the point of starving to death, millions of Chinese in Shanghai in order to limit disease spread.
Apparently, the Chinese vaccine is highly ineffective and the leadership refuses to use Western vaccines. Consequently, it’s trapped, by choice, in a ruinous policy that will lead to never-ending lockdowns.
President Xi may find himself out of power if 10 million residents of Shanghai take to the streets and riot or 10 million residents of Beijing start marching to Shanghai to liberate their starving countrymen.)
Drug is dysfunctional
First, the Test to Treat is dysfunctional. No one knows about it, the pharmacies aren’t participating, and many pharmacies apparently don’t have supplies of the new anti-viral pills. Others are overstocked, with medication that’s going beyond the date of legal usage.
Second, we all need to advocate strongly for ourselves and assume that medical practitioners, particularly physician assistants, nurses, receptionists, and pharmacists, aren’t up to speed on the latest available medications.
Third, Biden and the FDA need to get on the same page. The FDA has approved Paxlovid only for those at high risk of severe disease. It’s time for the FDA to lay out the risks of the medication and let people, or at least their doctors, make the own decision on whether to take the risk.
We are, in the final analysis, all at risk of severe disease. We all know people who were young, able-bodied, had no co-morbidities, and are now dead thanks to COVID. The FDA lists the risks to Paxlovid.
The list provides no estimate of the share of Paxlovid users who would suffer these side effects, let alone the severity of the listed side effects (none of which seem life-threatening to me.) Thus, we have yet another example of the FDA seemingly protecting its derriere at the price of the public’s general health.
Fourth, rapid home tests work as advertised — when your viral load is really high — high enough to spike a fever, they go positive.
But they work too late to operate in tandem with anti-COVID viral meds that need to be taken at the beginning of infection, not days later when infection is detectable on a strip of paper.
The implication? We need to develop far cheaper rapid home PCR tests than the $75 test now marketed by Lucira. Rapid group PCR testing was the answer my brother, Michael, Provost at Cornell, and I pushed two years ago. It’s likely a major part of the answer today.
Finally, if you have any cold- or flu-type symptoms, you should do whatever you can to get a PCR test, not an antigen test, at your first sneeze or cough.
The fact that you aren’t antigen-test-positive may well mean you aren’t yet contagious (our granddaughter and my stepdaughter tested PCR negative today), but you need a quick PCR result to know if you should start the anti-viral meds.
But getting anti-viral meds right now is a different story. It may require telling an urgent care doc that you are at severe risk (Aren’t we all?), you have a co-morbidity (Surely something will kill you!), and when asked if your immune system is compromised on its own or via the use of immune-suppressing medicine, it can’t hurt to smile your biggest smile and move your head in a particular direction.
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