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Treat COVID-19 early

Man lying in bed holding a tissue and looking unwell.

Jan. 12, 2023—Think you might have COVID-19? Get tested as soon as you can. If you test positive, antiviral drugs may be an option that can help keep you out of the hospital. But it's important to find out fast. If you're eligible, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends starting antiviral treatments as soon as possible.

COVID-19 treatments are only available by prescription. You may be able to take one of these drugs if you have mild to moderate COVID-19 and your age or health conditions put you at a high risk of getting very sick from the disease.

If you are eligible to take an antiviral drug, it may help keep you from getting very sick, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it may reduce your risk of death from COVID-19.

What are the options?

There are two types of COVID-19 treatments you can take at home:

  • Paxlovid. It is used to treat COVID-19 in eligible adults and children over 12 years of age. Paxlovid can be prescribed by a healthcare provider or state-licensed pharmacist.
  • Lagevrio. It is for eligible adults when other treatment options aren't available or right for them. Lagevrio must be prescribed by a healthcare provider.

A third type of COVID-19 drug is given through an intravenous (IV) line:

  • Veklury is for certain adults and children. You have to go to a healthcare clinic to get this treatment once a day for three days. Veklury must be prescribed by a healthcare provider.

Get tested right away

You should get tested as soon as you can if you have COVID-19 symptoms. This is because COVID-19 treatments work best when started within days.

  • You must start either Paxlovid or Lagevrio within five days of your first symptoms.
  • You must start Veklury no later than seven days from when you first feel sick.

Talk to your doctor

Your doctor can review your health history and your current health and tell you if any of these COVID-19 drugs are right for you.

COVID-19 drugs can interact with other medicines. Those interactions can cause serious side effects. Make sure your doctor knows about every medicine or supplement you take, including over-the-counter drugs.

Other side effects are also possible. It depends on the drug. They may include allergic reactions, diarrhea, nausea or liver problems.

You should tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should also tell your doctor if you breastfeed a baby. There may be unknown risks when taking a COVID-19 drug in these cases. You and your doctor can decide if there are more benefits than risks.

Get more COVID-19 news

Check out our Coronavirus health topic center.


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