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Paxlovid available at TMO pharmacy

Thursday 12 January 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Health, National


Paxlovid  available at TMO pharmacy
Director of Hospital Health Services, Dr Yin Yin May. 22090829

Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health has supply for 100 prescriptions for Paxlovid, an anti-viral medication used to combat Covid-19.

The supply, which has come from New Zealand, arrived in the Cook Islands last week.

Director of Hospital Health Services Dr Yin Yin May said the medication will not prevent people from getting Covid, but “will reduce your hospitalisation and getting severe Covid, like your vaccination”.

“It has led to an 88 per cent reduction in hospitalisation or death among high-risk, unvaccinated individuals with Covid if taken within five days from onset of symptoms,” May said.

“Paxlovid consists of two medicines: Nirmatrelvir and Ritonavir. Nirmatrelvir will kill the virus and Ritonavir will enhance the effect of Nirmatrelvir by slowing down the excretion from body.”

The batch of Paxlovid has arrived at a time where the Cook Islands is experiencing an uptick in Covid-19 cases. There are currently 79 active Covid-19 cases in the island nation, the bulk of them in Rarotonga.

Yesterday, Te Marae Ora confirmed the new variant of Covid-19, XBB1, had arrived in the Cook Islands.

May said it had received supply for 100 prescriptions of Paxlovid, and had “plans to order when we are down to 70 prescriptions on hand”.

“In the Cook Islands, like in New Zealand, Paxlovid will be reserved for those people 18 years old or older, who are most at risk of hospitalisation. It must be prescribed by designated Te Marae Ora prescribers and will be dispensed at the Rarotonga Hospital Pharmacy, if it is appropriate to do so,” May said.

“Paxlovid interacts with many other medicines and its safety for each person needs to be carefully checked.

“It is an expensive medicine that is in short supply worldwide, and needs to be used properly to optimise its benefits and minimise its risks. Because Paxlovid is being supplied from the New Zealand Government to Te Marae Ora, it will not be available from private pharmacies in the Cook Islands at this stage.”

According to Te Marae Ora, you may be eligible for Paxlovid if: you are 18 years old or older, you have confirmed symptomatic Covid-19, or have symptoms of Covid-19 and are a household contact of a positive case; your symptoms started within the last five days; you are 50 years old or older and haven’t had two doses of Covid-19 vaccination, your immune system isn’t working properly, or you have other conditions that put you at risk of hospitalisation.