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COVID “test and treat” is set to launch later this month. Here’s where the anti-COVID pills are available now.

President Joe Biden announced in his State of the Union Address last week the next strategy in combating COVID-19 called “test and treat.”

The plan to be launched later this month would have COVID-19 tests available at pharmacy clinics, community health centers, long-term care facilities and veterans’ health centers. People who test positive and fit eligibility requirements would receive COVID antiviral medications on the spot.

The FDA granted Paxlovid and Molnupiravir emergency use authorization in December. The pills are available by prescription at clinics and pharmacies throughout the state.  Paxlovid is for adults and children 12 and older who are high risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19. Molnupiravir is for adults. People with COVID must start taking the pills within five days of symptoms.

A new “test and treat” strategy is going to require distribution of more pills.

North Carolina flu regions

North Carolina flu regions

As it is now, states get the antiviral pills from the federal government every two weeks, the state Department of Health and Human Services said in an email. DHHS distributes them by state influenza region in proportion to their populations.

North Carolina received 8,808 courses of Molnupiravir and 3,760 courses of Paxlovid in the last week of February, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In distributing the pills, DHHS considers what pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals want, their inventory and history of use, and a geographic analysis of where pills are available. The state maintains a treatment locator. Long-term care providers and Federally Qualified Health Centers, which are health clinics in underserved areas, are prioritized, DHHS said.

The number of providers in a region is also a factor in the distribution. Pharmacies in areas where there aren’t many outlets many receive more pills than cities or towns where they can be found in lots of places. This is one reason that a Walmart in McDowell County had eight times more Molnupiravir as did a CVS in Durham.

As supplies increase and demand decreases, the state will become less reliant on regional distribution, DHHS said.

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COVID “test and treat” is set to launch later this month. Here’s where the anti-COVID pills are available now.