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Respiratory doctor flags patients aren’t aware of antivirals

Dr Anna Tai, a respiratory doctor, from the Institute for Respiratory Health welcomes the addition of oral antiviral pills to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) saying that it gives the vulnerable and those with lung conditions more options and plays an important role in keeping people safe.

“Antiviral drugs don’t cure coronavirus completely but they do decrease the severity of it and it also means that vulnerable people can be treated safely at home,” said Dr Anna Tai.

“This is a huge benefit as previously at-risk groups were going into hospitals and potentially exposing themselves and others to the virus. They can now take these new pills at home.

“The biggest issue however is that many are unaware that they can get a prescription for antiviral medications from their local GP – it’s never been easier to get treated.

“We need to get the message out to people with weakened immune systems, especially the vulnerable, that they can now easily access these antiviral medicines from their doctor.”

Antiviral pills make it harder for the coronavirus to replicate inside the body. Some are more resilient to new variants than others.

They’re meant to be taken within the first few days of having coronavirus and they reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death significantly.

Paxlovid and Molnupiravir are both listed on the PBS.

Adults who have mild to moderate Covid-19  — which is confirmed by a PCR or a rapid antigen test — can be considered for an oral antiviral treatment if they are:

  • aged 65 or older, with two other risk factors for severe disease
  • aged 75 or older, with one other risk factor
  • aged 50 or older and identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, with two other risk factors
  • aged 18 or older and moderately to severely immunocompromised.

Both treatments are not a substitute for vaccinations.

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