Dec. 8, 2022 – The majority of Americans now have access to free same-day delivery of the COVID-19 antiviral medication Paxlovid via a partnership announced Wednesday by Walgreens, DoorDash, and Uber.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases are escalating heading into the holiday season, and following news from health officials that fewer treatments remain effective as the virus changes. 

“This initiative is aimed at increasing access to COVID-19 treatment, with a focus on reaching those in socially vulnerable or medically underserved areas at a time when COVID-19 cases are beginning to rise again across the United States,” a Walgreens press release stated.

The service is available for people with a Paxlovid prescription who live within 15 miles of one of the more than 8,000 participating Walgreens locations nationwide. The company says that translates into treatment access for 92% of the U.S. population.

Paxlovid is taken in pill form within 5 days of symptom onset and is for symptomatic COVID-19 patients age 12 and older at risk for severe illness. Risk factors are:

  • Being over 50 years old
  • Being unvaccinated or not up-to-date on vaccinations
  • Having certain medical conditions or behaviors such as asthma, diabetes or smoking

Previous studies have shown that some groups known to be at higher risk of severe illness, including minorities and the elderly, are less likely to get treatments such as Paxlovid. The federal government has implemented a program called Test to Treat with locations near underserved communities to increase access to health care providers who can write prescriptions for treatments like Paxlovid.

Sometimes transportation isn’t the issue blocking access to treatment, it’s simply the time it takes to see a health care provider, go to the pharmacy, or go to a testing site, Rachel Werner, MD, PhD, told CNN.

“It’s a combination of things that prevent access to care,” said Werner, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. “Often, people have to take time off of work to do that, and they don’t always have paid sick leave. Everyone’s lives are complicated, and sometimes it’s hard to balance competing priorities.”

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Walgreens: “Walgreens Launches Free Paxlovid Delivery Services with DoorDash and Uber.”

DHHS: “Paxlovid,” “COVID-19 Test to Treat Locator.”

CDC: “Interim Clinical Considerations for COVID-19 Treatment in Outpatients.”

JAMA Network Open: “Geographic Accessibility of COVID-19 Test to Treat Sites by Race, Ethnicity, Age, and Rurality.”

CNN: “Home delivery of medications can help improve access, especially when time is tight.”

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