With the announcement by the Government of Canada approving the use of Pfizer’s Paxlovid COVID-19 antiviral drug there is now one more tool in the fight against COVID-19. The NTHSSA is working to ensure awareness and roll out of this new treatment within the NWT.
In the NWT we expect to receive a supply of Paxlovid based on a per-capita allotment which is the same allocation formula for all jurisdictions across the country. We expect to receive our first allotment this week which will then be immediately distributed to regional centres where it will be stored for use based on eligibility criteria. Use of this new drug is required to be prescribed by a physician; the drug itself can be taken at home and is intended to be started during the first 5 days from symptom onset.
Due to limitations of initial supply, treatment will be reserved for those at highest risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. Decisions about who may be eligible for this new treatment option will be made by NWT physicians based on criteria that is currently being finalized by the NTHSSA. This will account for treatments that best fit the individual scenario for the best possible outcome and will include criteria for who may receive Paxlovid or other therapies such as monoclonal antibodies or inhaled steroid therapy.
Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms is encouraged to get tested either at a local health centre, testing site, or by using an at-home rapid test kit. Individuals who are over 60 ,who have health conditions such as immune suppression, or other complex medical needs, or who are not fully-immunized are encouraged to seek testing and assessment by a healthcare provider. Assessment by a provider is required to determine eligibility for Paxlovid or other treatments avialabile.
Paxlovid will be treated as other drugs on the NWT formulary that are prescribed under the direction of a physician or Nurse Practitioner. NTHSSA will ensure that Community Health Nurses are aware and able to consult with these providers in order to facilitate prescription, shipment, and administration of this new treatment option for those who are eligible. Distribution will not be limited to communities with in-person physician presence.
While Paxlovid is another development that will help us reduce harm from COVID-19 there are still other measures residents can and should take to reduce their personal risk and the societal impacts of COVID-19. These measures include following public health measures, limiting potential exposure to COVID-19, practicing healthy habits, and most importantly getting vaccinated which continues to provide protection from contracting COVID-19 or from severe illness if someone does get the virus.