The Biden Administration is launching a nationwide Test to Treat Initiative, so Americans can rapidly access COVID-19 treatments, according to a news release from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
As HHS explains, “In this program, people will be able to get tested, and – if they are positive and treatments are appropriate for them – receive a prescription from a qualified healthcare provider, and have their prescription filled all in one location. These ‘One-Stop Test to Treat’ locations will be available at hundreds of locations nationwide, including pharmacy-based clinics, FQHCs, and long-term care facilities. People will also continue to be able to be tested and treated by their own healthcare providers who can appropriately prescribe these oral antivirals at locations where they are being distributed.”
The program is run by HHS and includes a direct allocation of antiviral pills to participating clinics, centers, and facilities.
“Tackling barriers to testing and treatments remains a priority for us, including making sure people can access these tools for free, wherever they are, and even if they don’t have health insurance,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said.
The federal government has invested in a number of COVID-19 treatments including two oral antiviral pills — Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s Molnupiravir — that can help prevent severe illness and hospitalization when taken soon after symptom onset.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) within HHS already distributes COVID-19 treatments, including oral antivirals, to states and territories for free on a weekly basis. All qualified healthcare providers can prescribe these therapeutics to patients who are at increased risk for developing severe COVID-19.
Effective March 7, HHS said it “will also begin distributing oral antiviral pills directly to participating Test to Treat pharmacy-based clinics,” HHS explained. ASPR also plans to launch a program so that pharmacies associated with long-term care facilities can directly order the antivirals. HHS said it wants to ensure that residents of long-term care facilities have access to the medications quickly because they are at increased risk for developing severe COVID-19.
A federal Test to Treat website is in development with an anticipated launch in mid-March.