CLEVELAND — The Ohio Department of Health has launched a new page on its dashboard that helps individuals with the highest risk for severe complications from COVID-19, including hospitalization or death, find COVID-19 therapeutics, which require a prescription order from a licensed healthcare provider.
Dr. Joe Gastaldo, medical director of infectious disease at OhioHealth, said in general these therapies are designed to help people who have become infected with the virus to fight it off, and to help high-risk individuals avoid severe disease.
“They are really for anybody, regardless of their vaccination status, who has a high-risk condition. And when you look at the collection of high-risk conditions, there are things on there that we're all very familiar with, like diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, liver disease, kidney disease. But there are also other things on there, too, like physical inactivity, people with neurological conditions, people who are disabled, people who are overweight, people who are living with substance abuse disorder. Those are all at-risk conditions and those are all a part of the population that qualifies for these outpatient treatments if they do get COVID," Gastaldo said.
Taking these therapies, like so many other medications, could affect changes in one’s vital organ function like the liver or kidney, and determining whether a treatment is right requires an assessment from a medical provider.
To help with this process and make the determination if a COVID-19 therapy is right for someone, ODH has expanded its network of sites that are able to provide the treatments. Click here to find a provider near you and more about therapeutic treatments.
Ohioans currently have four major therapeutic options at their disposal:
- Monoclonal antibodies—currently Evusheld and Bebtelovimab, both medically manufactured antibodies given to help the immune system, fight off the virus.
- Bebtelovimab is the only monoclonal effective against the BA.2 sub-variant of omicron, which is what experts see most in Ohio. It’s administered through a single IV infusion that lasts about 30 seconds and should only be administered within 10 days of symptom onset.
- Evusheld, on the other hand, is a proactive antibody that is meant to prevent disease among vulnerable populations before they are ever exposed to COVID. It’s given as an injection into the muscle.
Then there are antiviral medications that work to keep the virus from replicating properly, giving your immune system the upper hand.
Vanderhoff said the most important of these is in a pill form called Paxloid. The treatment of this has to be initiated within five days of symptom onset.
“This makes it imperative that people who want to get treatment get tested soon,” Vanderhoff said.
The other antiviral medication is molnupiravir which should be initiated as a treatment as soon as possible after a diagnosis of COVID-19 and within five days of symptom onset.
“Therapeutics are a vital tool in our battle against COVID-19 because they may prevent an initial mild COVID illness from getting more severe," Vanderhoff said.
While therapeutics are important in the fight against COVID for vulnerable populations, vaccinations still remain the best protection of getting severely ill from COVID, Vanderhoff emphasized.
"Now it's important to note that therapeutics are not for everyone, and they certainly shouldn't be seen as an alternative to vaccination. Getting the vaccine and appropriate follow up shots really should remain a foundation of protection against severe illness from COVID," he said.
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