SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Pills to treat COVID-19 could soon be a part of Utah’s strategy to combat the deadly virus, according to Governor Spencer J. Cox.
In his monthly press conference, Cox made reference to antiviral pills that drugmakers Pfizer and Merck have produced as a remedy for those who are sick from COVID. The governor says he believes oral antiviral treatments will be significant in preventing severe disease and possible death from the illness, which has already taken the lives of nearly 3,400 Utahns.
“In addition to the booster doses that are now being available, these oral antiviral treatment options on the horizon appear to be highly effective, and will be an incredible tool in our arsenal as we continue to work on protecting the lives of our citizens,” Cox stated while also announcing that booster shots will now be available to all adult residents who are fully-vaccinated.
The pills from the drug companies are still waiting for approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but from Cox’s observation, testing has been going remarkably well.
“These drugs are both pending emergency authorization from the FDA, which will we expect will come in the next few weeks,” Cox advised. “In fact, our understanding is that those trials were cut short because the efficacy was so high that they have an ethical obligation to present those and move them forward.”
And while the pills aren’t set for distribution yet, the state is already preparing a strategy to get them in the hands – or mouths – of the Utahns who need them.
“We are currently developing a statewide distribution and access plan, much like we did with the vaccines to make sure that we get them to the eligible population as soon as they are available here in the state,” Cox said.
The strategy will be somewhat similar to the rollout of the state’s monoclonal antibodies treatment, which Cox refers to now as a “robust system” but “much more invasive.”
However, to conclude his statement on the pending availability of pills, Cox continued a plea he has made for months.
“I want to emphasize and reemphasize over and over and over again that vaccination is still the best way to protect yourself and to protect those around you,” he implored. “If you or your kids have not been vaccinated. I would encourage you to get vaccinated now.”