March 30, 2022 — President Joe Biden on Wednesday unveiled a federal web site that guarantees “one-stop procuring” without cost masks and COVID-19 assessments, vaccines, and coverings.
The web site, covid.gov, additionally features a listing of pharmacies that might be a part of the brand new “test-to-treat” program.
“You’ll additionally be capable to discover our new test-to-treat areas,” Biden stated at a information briefing. “These are pharmacies and different locations in your neighborhood the place you will get examined, and should you’re constructive, you will get life-saving therapies in a single cease.”
Quickly after his remarks, he obtained a second booster of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA and CDC authorized the fourth dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on Tuesday for People over 50 and other people over 18 who meet particular circumstances.
For People searching for a vaccine or a booster, covid.gov contains a hyperlink to vaccines.gov, the place you may go to discover a native vaccination middle. The general public may also use covid.gov to order free assessments for residence supply (customers are taken to covidtests.gov) and to search out free masks, through a hyperlink to a CDC webpage.
You’ll be able to search covid.gov by deal with or ZIP code to search out close by pharmacies, federally certified neighborhood well being facilities, Indian Well being Service websites, or Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics that provide test-to-treat companies.
All through the pandemic, it’s been onerous to search out one supply to assist navigate all the things somebody may must battle COVID, says Jen Kates, PhD, senior vice chairman and director of worldwide well being for the Kaiser Household Basis.
Covid.gov “is an efficient step ahead to carry all the things beneath one web roof,” she says. A one-stop store “will facilitate entry.”
As states, counties, and cities start shuttering their very own government-funded applications, with the ability to simply discover websites for COVID-related companies could change into extra essential, Kates says.
Some states and localities have been closing down websites due to a decline in demand and case counts. There may be additionally a priority amongst states that they won’t be able to proceed if federal cash to reimburse for assessments, vaccines, and coverings dries up.
The White Home has been warning that provides could run low if it doesn’t get no less than $22.5 billion in emergency funds to battle the pandemic. Congress has not but agreed on whether or not to approve that request.
Within the meantime, the White Home has diminished shipments of monoclonal antibodies to states by a 3rd, and Biden stated provides would run out by the tip of Might.
The president additionally famous that the federal government won’t have sufficient vaccines available this fall to present each American a second booster shot, though he stated there are sufficient for these over 50 and immunocompromised individuals.
“Congress, we have to safe further provide now,” Biden stated. “We are able to’t wait till we discover ourselves within the midst of one other surge to behave. It is going to be too late.”
Check-to-Deal with Challenges
The president introduced the test-to-treat initiative in his State of the Union speech on March 2. The thought is that individuals who take a look at constructive for COVID-19 in a pharmacy or at a well being clinic could be eligible to obtain, instantly and freed from cost, one among two antiviral drugs approved by the FDA — Pfizer’s Paxlovid or Merck’s molnupiravir. Each have to be taken inside 5 days after signs seem to forestall critical sickness.
Biden stated that 2,000 areas throughout the U.S. would now supply test-to-treat, together with 240 federally certified neighborhood well being facilities, Indian Well being Service websites, VA well being clinics, and greater than 60 Division of Protection medical therapy services.
Kates says the test-to-treat idea is essential, however “the execution goes to be onerous.” However “we all know as quickly as you get a analysis, the earlier you get on therapy, the higher.”
She says COVID-related provide points with assessments, vaccines, and particularly therapies like Paxlovid are going to create challenges. And pharmacists’ means to deal with sufferers may be restricted in some states by legal guidelines that govern the apply of medication.
Certainly, docs’ teams have objected to pharmacists with the ability to dispense a medicine on to a affected person, due to the potential for negative effects. Pharmacists additionally aren’t prone to know somebody’s full medical historical past, teams such because the American Medical Affiliation have stated.
And pharmacies have considerations that this system might solely be carried out by shops with on-site clinics, which might restrict the kind and variety of pharmacies that would participate.
Many of the test-to-treat pharmacies listed on covid.gov look like giant chains, similar to CVS and Walgreens, or supermarket-affiliated pharmacies, though there additionally look like some impartial shops in some areas.