Jun 30, 2022 - Health

NYC to offer COVID medication Paxlovid at mobile testing sites

Photo of Eric Adams speaking from a podium

Mayor Eric Adams speaks at Tweed Courthouse in New York City on June 27, 2022. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York City will begin offering free antiviral medications at mobile testing sites for vulnerable residents who test positive for COVID-19, Mayor Eric Adams said Thursday.

Why it matters: Mobile testing units will now include a clinician who can prescribe the antiviral medication Paxlovid at no cost for those who are eligible.

Details: New York City's initiative, the first in the nation, will start with three mobile testing units located in neighborhoods with many working-class residents, effective Thursday.

  • The units are set up outside local pharmacies that will be able to immediately fill prescriptions.
  • The city plans to expand the number of sites to 30 by the end of July, and will shift distribution to be able to hand out antiviral medication in the units on the spot.
  • In the U.S., Paxlovid is authorized for people who have mild-to-moderate symptoms but are at high risk of severe illness.

What they're saying: "This mobile Test to Treat program will save lives today and prepares us for future waves of this pandemic, keeping more New Yorkers safe and healthy," Adams, who has noted that his COVID symptoms were mild because of Paxlovid, said in a statement.

  • "COVID isn’t over, and we must ensure lifesaving treatments like Paxlovid are reaching our hardest-hit communities," Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said in a statement. "That’s exactly what New York City is doing with the launch of the nation’s first mobile Test-to-Treat clinic."

The federal "Test to Treat" program was first announced in President Biden's State of the Union address.

The big picture: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that some people may experience a Paxlovid rebound, in which symptoms recur or a test comes back positive after someone has tested negative shortly after an initial recovery — though it's rare.

  • Top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, who recently tested positive and experienced a Paxlovid rebound, said he is recovering well after taking a second course of the medication, per ABC News.
  • Though data is so far limited, most people who undergo a rebound will not suffer from severe symptoms, according to the CDC.
  • There is also no evidence at this time that an infected person needs additional courses of Paxlovid after a rebound.

Go deeper: Few get COVID "rebound" cases after taking Paxlovid, study finds

Go deeper