‘Test to Treat’ program offers free COVID-19 antiviral pills

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) – The new COVID-19 “Test to Treat” program rollout is underway in the U.S. It means that if you test positive for COVID-19, you can get free antiviral medication to help treat it.

Two COVID-19 antiviral pills are already available for free in the U.S., but getting them quickly can be challenging.

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said, “These treatments work to prevent the worst outcomes of COVID-19.”

The new Test to Treat program aims to help that. It’ll allow people to go to one place to be tested for COVID-19, and if positive, be given free antiviral pills on the spot.

Zients said, “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.”

Certain pharmacies across the U.S.—including CVS, Walgreens and Walmart—have confirmed some of their locations are getting ready to take part in the program.

Pfizer’s antiviral pill is for people 12 and older. Merck’s is for adults only. The treatment works best when taken within a few days of the start of symptoms.

While the one-stop sites are ordering the COVID-19 antiviral medicines now, the orders have to be delivered before they can be prescribed.

Patients are expected to be able to receive COVID-19 antivirals through this program later this week.

To find a location taking part, there will be a Test-to-Treat website expected to launch in mid-March.

The American Medical Association has voiced concerns over the program, saying a clinic might not know a patient’s full medical history or medications being taken like a doctor would. Officials say that’s why it’s important to contact your doctor shortly after testing positive for COVID-19 to assess treatment options.

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