Throughout this pandemic, there were times when I felt helpless against this new, complex virus. But there have been many moments of hope and many important milestones, and now we have more tools in the fight against COVID-19: oral medications.

In addition to monoclonal antibody treatment, Michigan regularly receives supplies of oral paxlovid and molnupivir for the treatment of COVID-19 after authorization for their emergency use from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

As a doctor, I am fascinated by oral antivirals and their benefits. If you see a doctor during a severe flu case, he may have prescribed tamiflu or a similar antiviral drug to reduce symptoms. This is the purpose of COVID-19 antiviral drugs – to keep your symptoms under control so that you do not get seriously ill and do not have to visit the hospital.

Test data for these drugs are encouraging. Test data from Merck showed that molnupiravir reduces the risk of hospitalization and death among patients at high risk of COVID by 30 percent. In a Paxlovid trial, Pfizer reduced the proportion of people hospitalized or killed by COVID-19 by 88 percent.

The pills are designed for the outpatient treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19, which means you don’t need to go to the hospital to get them. You need to talk to the supplier – both drugs can only be prescribed by doctors, certified nurses and medical assistants.

Remember – even mild cases of COVID-19 can cause long-term symptoms and complications in healthy people. Prevention is really the best medicine, so we continue to encourage patients to do vaccinations and recommendations.

If you get a positive result on COVID-19 and have symptoms, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Your doctor should determine the best course of treatment for your circumstances.

Thankfully, Michigan seems to be at the back of the COVID micron wave, but now is not the time to underestimate the virus. I am confident that I can help protect my patients from serious illness or hospitalization with proven tools that we know work – vaccinations, boosters, and now oral medications.

You can learn more about oral antiviral drugs and monoclonal antibody therapy at Michigan.gov/COVIDTherapy.

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