What is the ‘test to treat’ COVID initiative? White House offers access to potentially lifesaving treatments

Oral antiviral pills to be made available

The White House launched its “test to treat” COVID initiative on Monday. The program is intended to allow higher-risk Americans to have rapid and easy access to potentially lifesaving COVID treatments. It’s something that will make it possible for more people to safely re-enter society as COVID precautions are dropped. The treatments are Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s Molnupiravir. They are oral antiviral pills that studies show can help prevent severe illness and hospitalization when taken shortly after COVID symptoms appear.

The White House launched its “test to treat” COVID initiative on Monday.

The program is intended to allow higher-risk Americans to have rapid and easy access to potentially lifesaving COVID treatments. It’s something that will make it possible for more people to safely re-enter society as COVID precautions are dropped.

The treatments are Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s Molnupiravir. They are oral antiviral pills that studies show can help prevent severe illness and hospitalization when taken shortly after COVID symptoms appear.

Read: Michigan reports 1,819 new COVID cases, 45 deaths -- average of 910 cases per day

How does the ‘test to treat’ initiative work?

If you test positive for COVID you can immediately get free antiviral medication to help treat it.

The two COVID pills available in the U.S. are most effective when taken as soon as possible after symptoms start. Getting them quickly has proven challenging.

The new initiative will allow people to go to one place to be tested, and if positive, get the antiviral pills right there.

“Hundreds of one-stop sites will open across the country this month, located at local pharmacy clinics, community health centers, long-term care facilities and veterans’ health centers,” White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said.

Who will participate?

Participating pharmacies have started placing their orders for the medications. CVS, Walgreens and Walmart have confirmed some of their locations will take part in the program.

Participating locations must have qualified on-site health care providers to write the prescription. So, that will limit pharmacies that can participate. You will not have to get tested at the location. Patients can also bring at-home results to the site.

A federal test to treat website is expected to launch in mid-March to help patients find the location closest to them.

The first test to treat sites could open as early as next week. The pills are intended for those at high-risk from COVID complications, but it’s not clear how that determination will be made.

Read: Complete COVID coverage


About the Authors:

Kimberly Gill joined the Local 4 News team in November 2014. She was named Personality of the Year in 2009 by the Ohio Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. She’s also a two-time Emmy winner.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.