"Test to Treat", a Brave move to fight Covid-19 future Variants?
March 6, 2022.
In his State of the Union address on March 1, President Biden revealed a new Covid-19 strategy plan, which includes a “Test to Treat” campaign.
The new National Covid-19 Preparedness Plan focuses on keeping businesses and schools open, enhancing access to testing and treatment, and preventing future public health emergencies, according to officials.
What is the "Test to Treat" campaign and its Benefits?
People will be able to get tested for Covid-19 at a drugstore and obtain free antiviral medications on the spot if they are positive as part of this effort.
Under a “test to treat” initiative launched by President Biden this week as part of his new pandemic road map, consumers would be able to go into a CVS or Walgreens clinic, get tested for the coronavirus, and go home with a free course of antiviral treatment if the results are positive.
A senior adviser to the White House coronavirus response team, Tom Inglesby, said. “The overall goal of the program is to increase access to life-saving treatments that need to be given quickly to be effective,”
“By protecting against and treating covid, preparing for any new variants, preventing economic and school shutdowns, and vaccinating the world and saving lives, the president’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan will enable us to move forward safely to get back to our more normal routines,” Jeff Zients, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, spoke at a briefing on Wednesday.
Hundreds of one-stop sites will open across the country this month, allowing people to undergo COVID-19 treatment immediately after testing positive, according to Mr. Zients.
According to the White House, Congressional leaders have already been briefed on the need for near-term funding to acquire more vaccines, antiviral medicines, and continued vaccine development. The required sum was not specified.
The program intends to make it easier for those with underlying conditions to receive either Pfizer’s Paxlovid or Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics’ molnupiravir.
If both medications are started within five days of the onset of symptoms, they greatly lower the chance of hospitalization and mortality.
Pfizer’s tablet was demonstrated to be approximately 90% effective in preventing serious illness in high-risk patients in clinical trials. Merck’s medication lowered the chance of hospitalization or death by 30%.
Some doctors have praised the one-stop approach as a potential breakthrough, saying it will make it significantly easier for those at high risk of serious disease to acquire lifesaving drugs swiftly — particularly for those who don’t have regular doctors.
Who Can Take COVID-19 Antiviral Pills?
Paxlovid is available for people aged 12 and up who have been diagnosed with mild-to-moderate Covid-19 and are at high risk of developing a severe case of the disease, which means they could be hospitalized, require intensive care, or die.
Molnupiravir is approved for people 18 and older who are at risk for Covid-19, but only when other FDA-approved Covid-19 medications are inaccessible or inappropriate.
What Did Experts say about Test to Treat?
“I’m rooting for this,” said Eric Topol, a molecular medicine professor, and Scripps Research executive vice president. “the bold type of move we need. This is what we want to have in place to be ready for a surge.”
Dr. Michael Mina, former associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and currently chief science officer of biotech software business eMed, detailed on Twitter how the new project has the potential to improve public health. said, “transform the impact of future surges to be dramatically more manageable.”
Mina believes that combining rapid tests with instant treatment options is “simply smart,” and that treating patients quickly and fairly will help reduce the virus’s influence in society.
“We need better national-level guidance from [the American Medical Association], [Infectious Diseases Society of America] and pharmacy societies and others for treatment algorithms so that if someone is not eligible for oral antivirals, the decision tree for what’s next is not complicated and we aren’t always reinventing the wheel,” Mina added.
The American Medical Association said in a statement Friday that the administration’s approach, “although well-intended,” “oversimplifies hard prescribing decisions by eliminating knowledge of a patient’s medical history, the intricacy of drug interactions, and managing potential adverse effects.”
However, White House officials claimed that the program is primarily aimed at the quarter of Americans who do not have a primary care physician.
People who can see a family physician soon after testing positive should do so, according to Cameron Webb, a physician and senior adviser for equity on the White House coronavirus task group.
However, the test to treat locations will increase access to life-saving treatments for those who do not have access to such doctors. “They now have a path,” he added.
In interviews, administration officials stated that they are certain that they will have enough medications and test kits to launch the program in hundreds of pharmacies, as well as community health centers and long-term care facilities, beginning next week.
They claim that the antiviral medications have already been purchased by the federal government and will be distributed for free.
What did the pharmacies Say?
A Walmart representative told McClatchy News that Walmart Health Centers in three states — Georgia, Arizona, and Illinois — will take part.
CVS pharmacies did not say how many of its locations would participate in Test to Treat, but it did voice support for the effort.
“With our Minute Clinic medical clinics and CVS Pharmacy footprint we are uniquely positioned to help support the government’s Test to Treat initiative and look forward to helping provide expanded access as additional inventory becomes available,” a spokesman told McClatchy in an email.
Walgreens stated that it is on board with Test to Treat, but that it is unable to give much more information at this time.
“Our pharmacists and pharmacies have played an essential role in response to COVID-19, and stand ready to further support in the timely and accessible delivery of COVID-19 treatments to patients,” according to a spokesman. “We will provide additional details regarding rollout in our stores as it becomes available.”
However, the testing and treatment stops will not be limited to pharmacies; “community health centers, Long-Term Care Facilities, and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities” would also be available, according to White House officials.
Furthermore, beginning the week of March 7, a new batch of COVID-19 tests will be available for home delivery through COVIDtests.gov. The president also stated that he intends to urge Congress for additional funds to continue financing free immunizations, tests, masks, and treatments.
Once operational, the White House Test to Treat program might be the quickest path to covid-19 treatment.
Test To Treat, Get Tested, Get Treated, and Get recovered soon.