Antiviral medications are a method of treating infections that reduces viral load, increases immunity, and reduces symptoms. There are currently three antiviral drugs available to symptomatic adults with confirmed cases of COVID-19—two are oral and one is intravenous.  

Earlier in 2022, the two oral antiviral treatments were given Emergency Use Authorization for treating mild to moderate outpatient cases of COVID-19. These antiviral treatments—Paxlovid and molnupiravir—must be taken within 5 days of symptoms starting and a person must have a confirmed COVID-19 infection to be prescribed. The NIH notes that “Because viral replication may be particularly active early in the course of COVID-19, antiviral therapy may have the greatest impact before the illness progresses” and becomes more severe (NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines). 

Patients with more serious COVID-19 symptoms may require more intensive care than an antiviral and should not rely on outpatient antivirals alone. Additionally, these antiviral drugs are not recommended for those who are pregnant. Both Paxlovis and molnupiravir may produce side effects, including altered taste, diarrhea, and muscle aches. 

In many states, demand for these medications exceeds supply, and the best way to protect your health is staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters. For more information regarding antiviral therapies, visit the NIH’s COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines page here

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