March 30, 2022 — President Joe Biden on Wednesday unveiled a federal web site that guarantees “one-stop purchasing” totally free masks and COVID-19 exams, 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 places,” Biden mentioned at a information briefing. “These are pharmacies and different locations in your neighborhood the place you may get examined, and in case you’re constructive, you may get life-saving remedies 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 Individuals over 50 and other people over 18 who meet particular circumstances.
For Individuals on the lookout for a vaccine or a booster, covid.gov incorporates a hyperlink to vaccines.gov, the place you’ll be able to go to discover a native vaccination middle. The general public also can use covid.gov to order free exams for dwelling supply (customers are taken to covidtests.gov) and to seek out free masks, by way of a hyperlink to a CDC webpage.
You’ll be able to search covid.gov by tackle or ZIP code to seek out close by pharmacies, federally certified neighborhood well being facilities, Indian Well being Service websites, or Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics that supply test-to-treat providers.
All through the pandemic, it’s been arduous to seek out one supply to assist navigate every thing somebody may have to combat COVID, says Jen Kates, PhD, senior vp and director of worldwide well being for the Kaiser Household Basis.
Covid.gov “is an efficient step ahead to convey every thing below 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, having the ability to simply discover websites for COVID-related providers could grow to be extra necessary, 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 will be unable to proceed if federal cash to reimburse for exams, 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 combat the pandemic. Congress has not but agreed on whether or not to approve that request.
Within the meantime, the White Home has decreased shipments of monoclonal antibodies to states by a 3rd, and Biden mentioned provides would run out by the tip of Might.
The president additionally famous that the federal government is not going to have sufficient vaccines readily available this fall to offer each American a second booster shot, though he mentioned there are sufficient for these over 50 and immunocompromised individuals.
“Congress, we have to safe extra provide now,” Biden mentioned. “We are able to’t wait till we discover ourselves within the midst of one other surge to behave. It will likely be too late.”
Take a look at-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 can be eligible to obtain, instantly and freed from cost, one in all two antiviral capsules licensed by the FDA — Pfizer’s Paxlovid or Merck’s molnupiravir. Each should be taken inside 5 days after signs seem to stop severe sickness.
Biden mentioned that 2,000 places 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 remedy amenities.
Kates says the test-to-treat idea is necessary, however “the execution goes to be arduous.” However “we all know as quickly as you get a analysis, the earlier you get on remedy, the higher.”
She says COVID-related provide points with exams, vaccines, and particularly remedies like Paxlovid are going to create challenges. And pharmacists’ potential to deal with sufferers could be restricted in some states by legal guidelines that govern the observe of drugs.
Certainly, medical doctors’ teams have objected to pharmacists having the ability to dispense a drugs on to a affected person, due to the potential for unwanted side effects. Pharmacists additionally aren’t prone to know somebody’s full medical historical past, teams such because the American Medical Affiliation have mentioned.
And pharmacies have issues 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.
A lot of the test-to-treat pharmacies listed on covid.gov seem like giant chains, similar to CVS and Walgreens, or supermarket-affiliated pharmacies, though there additionally seem like some impartial shops in some areas.