The oral treatments had previously been restricted to a smaller cohort of older Australians with high risk factors.
Experts have welcomed the change and say the medications are a useful tool in our pandemic response, but that vaccination remains the most important factor. Here’s what you need to know.
What are antivirals?
Dr Bruce Willett, vice president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), said the treatments are particularly effective in vulnerable communities, such as elderly people and those with chronic illness and immune issues.
Who is eligible?
Normally costing more than $1,000, the medicines will be available for $6.80 for concession card holders and around $40 for everyone else.
“The important thing to consider is that those trials were done in high-risk patients, so the main thing for us as a community now is to be able to identify those who are at highest risk, and to be able to offer these medications for those patients,” he said.
How and when should I access them?
The ‘Plan For COVID’ campaign encourages people to test at the first sign of symptoms, talk to their doctor without delay for advice and seek treatment options.
How important are they?
“We’re going to have to keep a close eye on whether with the SARS-COV-2 virus that mutants arise as we start using these drugs more and more, and look out for resistance to that.”