Blog: Paxlovid doses to Vermont increase tenfold, easing distribution problems – vtdigger.org

Gov. Phil Scott speaks during his weekly press briefing held at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction on Tuesday, April 26. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

The federal government has upped Vermont’s weekly allocation of Paxlovid to 2,000 doses per week, a sharp increase from the roughly 200 a week the state had been receiving before, officials said at a press conference Tuesday.

Vermonters had complained in recent weeks about struggling to find doses of the Covid-19 antiviral medication, which can prevent hospitalization and death for high-risk people when taken early in the course of the disease.

“This effective antiviral drug will be easier for patients to access and will prevent more potential cases of severe disease in Vermont,” Health Commissioner Mark Levine said.

With the increased doses, the state can allocate more pills to retail pharmacies already in the program, and could potentially add more pharmacies to the program, Levine said. The state also provides Paxlovid to hospital pharmacies.

The federal government runs a separate program that sends antivirals directly to pharmacies, bypassing the state, Levine said. It is unclear how many doses enter the state through that program.

Levine urged Vermonters, particularly those over 65 or with high-risk conditions, to contact their health care providers as soon as they receive a positive Covid result on a PCR or antigen test. 

He also urged high-risk Vermonters to consider taking precautions because of the current elevated rates of Covid cases and hospitalizations. As of last Thursday, seven of Vermont’s 14 counties were considered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have high community levels of Covid-19.

The number of new infections has shown signs of leveling off, Levine said: Cases increased 5% this week, a more modest uptick than in recent weeks. 

But hospital admissions continue to rise. Vermont admits an average of about 16 people to the hospital each day with Covid, compared to about 12 people a week ago, according to data compiled weekly by the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation.

The data shows that Vermonters should reexamine their risk and give serious consideration to wearing a mask and getting tested when symptomatic, Levine said.

“When it comes to this changing virus, we can be flexible: Using the tools we have to reduce spread more often when we need to, and then dialing them back when conditions allow,” he said. 

The health department reported 304 new cases of Covid on Tuesday, for a seven-day average of 326 cases per day. The seven-day average test positivity rate was 12.8%, which includes only PCR tests.

Sixty-two people were hospitalized with the virus as of Tuesday, including 10 in intensive care, the highest number of intensive care patients since Feb. 20.

The state reported no additional deaths on Tuesday. In total, 639 people have died from the virus in Vermont, with 18 deaths reported in April. No deaths have been reported for May.

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