Don’t end Paxlovid access in BC

After May 31, our Paxlovid supply from the federal government runs out. BC is currently debating whether to continue covering Paxlovid under provincial Pharmacare - and access to this anti-viral drug hangs in the balance.

If BC decides not to cover Paxlovid or to restrict eligibility, it could cost a whopping $1,400 to get COVID-19 treatment (if you can get it at all).

BC is in the final stages of reviewing Paxlovid coverage, and a decision is expected in the next couple weeks. We need to tell policy-makers NOW how important it is to give people access to this life-saving medication.

Here’s why:

  • A key tool: Paxlovid is the only home treatment option for COVID-19 in BC. It is also effective against the new JN.1 variant, unlike monoclonal antibodies. With the removal of mask protections in many places including hospitals and long-term care, BC has ensured that infection risks will rise; the least we can do is treat these infections.

  • Proven effectiveness: Studies show Paxlovid is effective in reducing severe illness and death, including in those with prior immunity. One study found that if Paxlovid use had increased just 5% during the first Omicron wave in the US, nearly 5000 lives could have been saved - and at 40% uptake, 25% of deaths could have been prevented.

  • Long Covid prevention: Discussion about Paxlovid effectiveness often misses a key metric. In addition to hospitalizations and deaths, we must also consider the risks of long-term health damage and disability. Multiple preliminary studies indicate Paxlovid may reduce the risks of Long COVID, including in vaccinated and non-hospitalized patients.

  • The importance of easy access: Studies show Paxlovid needs to be taken quickly within five days, which is why current BC guidelines allow doctors to issue pre-emptive prescriptions. If BC chooses not to cover Paxlovid - or to bury access under unnecessary bureaucracy - more people will miss the critical early window of treatment.

  • What it means to be ‘vulnerable’: There are at least 118,000 British Columbians who already have Long COVID. They are currently left out of BC's criteria for clinical vulnerability. Many people with Long COVID and other post-viral illnesses have already experienced significant declines after getting COVID again - especially as reinfections multiplies the chances of health damage. BC must ensure that any criteria for vulnerability includes those with a known history of post-viral health damage - and that people living in disability poverty aren’t charged $1400 for the only treatment available.

If you believe BC shouldn’t gatekeep COVID-19 treatment, or that it shouldn’t cost you $1,400, contact your representatives NOW. Send an email, then make some phone calls today!

Blue and yellow DoNoHarm BC graphic saying, Call Policy-makers Today. A person in an N95 mask is speaking into a phone, and the speech bubble says, Hello, this is ——— from postal code ———. I’m calling to urgently ask you to ensure coverage of the anti-viral medication Paxlovid, which is under review by Pharmacare. This medication is the only home treatment option for COVID-19, and studies show it not only reduces hospitalization and death, but may help prevent Long Covid and other longterm health damage. There’s no need to call me back/please call me back, my number is —-------------. At the bottom, a yellow bar reads, Health Minister: 250-953-3547. MLA phone number:

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