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Working Toward Ensuring Widespread Access to Treatments for COVID-19

August 24, 2022

During this transitional phase of the pandemic where the focus has shifted toward treatment such as oral antivirals, outpatient treatment to prevent hospitalization and death has continued to become a defining issue. We now have treatments as tools that are available for use and can reduce severe effects on the health of the population that may lead to hospitalizations. However, it is crucial that everyone has access to these treatments equitably.

Though treatments are now available, there have been many systemic obstacles to accessing outpatient treatments, including lack of public awareness, insufficient clinician education, limited well-defined pathways for clinical evaluation prior to treatment, and logistical challenges in dispensing the medications throughout the United States.

New York City has developed programs to help bring treatments to where New Yorkers are, and continues to work through the process of improving delivery.

In a paper published in JAMA, Executive Director Dr. Ted Long and others talk about the latest data on the uptake of treatments as well as the rollout of testing and treatment.

Read more about how the City has been working toward ensuring widespread and equitable access to COVID-19 treatments and other lessons learned here: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2794967

Key Points

  • As of July 1, 2022, more than 82,700 people in New York City have been treated with nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir (packaged together as Paxlovid). Despite an increase in COVID-19 cases in New York City during the latest Omicron waves, the percentage of people hospitalized for COVID-19 decreased compared with prior waves.
  • A citywide comprehensive system was established to facilitate testing and rapid access to treatment like oral antiviral medications.
  • At the end of June 2022, New York City established the first mobile Test-to-Treat program in which rapid testing, clinical evaluation, and instant access to oral antivirals can be done in one place using a fleet of 30 mobile units. This new approach was launched to further help address inequities that have persisted in accessing oral antiviral treatment.