Health Canada announced Monday it has approved Paxlovid, the oral anti-viral pill.
According to Health Canada, the pill can be given to adults, 18 years of age and older, who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are experiencing mild or moderate illness, and who are at high risk of becoming more seriously ill.
For a complete course, three pills of two different drugs will be prescribed to be taken twice a day for five days.
Canada’s Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the country has already received its first shipment of 30,000 treatment courses of the drug, with another 120,000 expected through March.
He added that distribution to provinces and territories will begin “immediately.”
In a statement emailed to Global News on Monday, Alexandra Hilkene, a spokesperson for the Ontario Minister of Health, said Ontario “welcomes the news that Health Canada has approved Pfizer’s antiviral Paxlovid.”
Hilkene said the province expects to receive “approximately 10,000 courses of treatment from the federal government in January,” with details on timing of shipments “to be confirmed.”
She said courses will “initially be prioritized for adults with the highest risk of severe outcomes including immunocompromised patients,” adding that it “could keep thousands of people out of our hospitals.”
According to Hilkene, the provincial government has “worked with our hospital partners and are prepared for distribution of antivirals at 15 sites across the province as soon we receive them.”
“The arrival of these pills gives us increased confidence as we continue to review key indicators and data to determine when we can begin safely and gradually lifting public health measures, and we look forward to providing additional details in the near future,” the statement reads.
The news comes as Ontario reported 3,887 people are now hospitalized across the province, marking a 292 jump from numbers reported Sunday.
3,887 people are hospitalized with #COVID19. Please note that not all hospitals report on weekends.
There are 578 people in ICU with COVID-19.
There are 8,521 new cases of COVID-19.
Today’s numbers will be available at 10:30 a.m. at https://t.co/ypmgZbVRvn.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) January 17, 2022
The latest provincial data released Monday also said 578 people with COVID-19 are receiving care in an intensive care unit in an Ontario hospital.
A total of 8,521 new cases of the virus were detected on Monday, though experts caution that is likely an undercount now that new testing rules in the province have been implemented.
— with a file from Global News’ Aaron D’Andrea and The Canadian Press
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