Health Canada has authorized the use of PaxlovidTM in Canada. This is the first oral treatment specifically for COVID-19. It comes in tablet form.
PaxlovidTM is intended to reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms in people at risk of developing serious complications from this infection. It is estimated to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19.
PaxlovidTM treatment must be started within five days of the appearance of COVID-19 symptoms. It must be taken at the home of the person who has COVID-19 for five consecutive days.
PaxlovidTM does not prevent COVID-19 and does not replace vaccination against COVID-19.
Eligibility for PaxlovidTM treatment
According to the recommendations issued by the Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS), PaxlovidTM is intended for people with COVID-19 who are at high risk of complications and meet the following criteria:
- adults who are moderately to severely immunocompromised (in French only) owing to an underlying condition or the treatment they are receiving for this condition (regardless of their vaccination status);
- people aged 60 or older, not adequately vaccinated (fewer than two doses) or not protected against COVID-19;
- people aged 18 or older, not adequately vaccinated (fewer than two doses) or not protected against COVID-19, and presenting with one of the following health conditions:
- obesity with a body mass index greater than or equal to 35,
- chronic kidney disease,
- liver failure,
- high blood pressure,
- cardiovascular and atherosclerotic disease,
- chronic respiratory disease (for example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or moderate to severe asthma);
- adolescents weighing at least 40 kg (88 lbs) and pregnant women, who present with at least one of the conditions listed above and who are not adequately vaccinated (fewer than 2 doses) or not protected against COVID-19, after discussion with a medical specialist or an experienced health professional;
- exceptionally, adults who are adequately protected or vaccinated presenting with a very high risk of COVID-19 complications (for example, very old age, several co-existing medical conditions among those listed above, especially if uncontrolled, and with poor protection against the circulating variant despite a complete vaccination series), after discussion with a medical specialist or an experienced health professional.
To receive PaxlovidTM treatment, these people must also:
- not present any contraindications to taking PaxlovidTM because of their health or their concomitant medications;
- have been symptomatic for five days or less;
- have a confirmed COVID-19 infection with a screening test (PCR) or a rapid self-test available from a pharmacy;
- not be hospitalized.
How to get access to PaxlovidTM
As soon COVID-19 symptoms appear, people whose condition appears to meet the criteria defined by INESSS must have a screening test to confirm a COVID-19 infection.
If they test positive, they must see a pharmacist, specialized nurse practitioner or physician.
The pharmacist, specialized nurse practitioner or physician will determine if they are eligible to receive PaxlovidTM, taking into account the recommendations issued by INESSS.
If eligible, they will be able to receive PaxlovidTM treatment free of charge at the pharmacy of their choice.
The COVID-19 Treatment sheet (PDF 121 Kb) also provides all the information.
Treatment with PaxlovidTM is not recommended in the following cases:
- severe allergy to one of the ingredients in PaxlovidTM;
- interactions with other medications being taken;
- severe kidney or liver problem.
Consumer information on PaxlovidTM is available on the Government of Canada’s website.
Last update: October 25, 2022