The new site will provide prescriptions for antiviral medication if necessary
By RACHEL SHEY — firstname.lastname@example.org
Yolo County recently opened its first “test-to-treat site” in Woodland, located near the OptumServe testing site at 2780 E Gibson Road. The new site allows Yolo County residents to take a rapid antigen test and potentially receive a prescription for the antiviral medication, Paxlovid, according to Yolo County Public Information Officer John Fout.
“Residents can walk in, take a rapid antigen test and get their results back,” Fout said. “If they test positive and have symptoms, they can get screened by the nurse to find out more about them and then they do a telehealth call with a doctor, and about an hour later they can walk out with five days worth of pills, which is the amount they would take to finish the series.”
Paxlovid is the most effective anti-COVID-19 treatment that the county currently has, Fout said. It must be prescribed by a licensed health care provider.
“If you take Paxlovid within the first five days of symptoms, it has 90% efficacy to reduce the risk of hospitalization or worse outcomes,” Fout said. “It is specifically meant to be for anybody who is over the age of 65 or anybody with specific health issues.”
Paxlovid consists of two different drugs taken together, according to the Food and Drug Administration. A clinical trial showed that the drug reduced the proportion of people who were hospitalized or died from COVID-19 by 88%.
“Paxlovid consists of nirmatrelvir, which inhibits a SARS-CoV-2 protein to stop the virus from replicating, and ritonavir, which slows down nirmatrelvir’s breakdown to help it remain in the body for a longer period at higher concentrations,” the website reads.
Due to a shortage, Paxlovid use is being restricted only to those at high risk for hospitalization from COVID-19. This shortage is caused by a lack of the reagents used to make the drugs, according to medicinal chemist Derek Lowe.
“…making DIBOC [a reagent needed to make Paxlovid] needs… another reagent called sodium t-butoxide,” Lowe wrote in a blog post for Science. “But to make that, you need t-butanol and sodium metal, and it turns out that there is, of all things, a bottleneck for sodium t-butoxide because there’s not quite enough sodium to go around.”
Thanks to the new test-to-treat site, it’s still easy to get free Paxlovid if you are eligible, Fout said. The site is designed to help Yolo County residents get access to Paxlovid during the window in which they are still eligible to take it.
“One of the things that’s important is that it’s free, both the testing and the treatments, and you don’t need to have health insurance of any kind,” Fout said. “Part of the issue is that people can’t immediately get an appointment, either for testing or with their doctor. That kind of delay can be really critical to make sure the treatment is taken within the five day period. That’s why this is such a nice important option for people to be able to utilize.”
Although COVID-19 cases are on the rise, heartening news comes in the form of Yolo County’s low hospitalization rate. Since there are now many effective treatments for COVID-19, the burden to the county healthcare system is reduced, and it seems unlikely that mask mandates will return, according to Fout.
“We have seen cases rising, we have seen testing positivity rates rise, but what we’re still seeing, which has been consistent with these newer variants of Omicron, is that the symptoms are relatively mild and most people aren’t winding up in the hospital, and our hospitalization rates are very low,” Fout said.
Written by: Rachel Shey — email@example.com