NYC launches nation’s first mobile test-to-treat Covid program, with free antiviral pills at testing sites
New York City will provide antiviral medication for New Yorkers who test positive for Covid at certain mobile testing sites, Mayor Eric Adams announced last week. Clinicians at participating mobile testing units will be able to write prescriptions for those who test positive–and are eligible for– Paxlovid, an oral antiviral treatment that reduces the chance of severe illness caused by the virus. The new test-to-treat program is the first of its kind in the United States.
The mayor announced the program on Thursday alongside Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, Dr. Ted Long, the executive director of NYC Test & Trace, and Dr. Ashwin Vasan, commissioner of the city’s Health Department.
The initial rollout of the program includes three mobile testing sites paired with local pharmacies. By the end of July, the city said a total of 30 mobile units will open under the program, providing prescriptions for Paxlovid that can be picked up at the local pharmacy or received via home delivery. Later this summer, some of the testing sites will be able to provide the medicine directly.
The first three mobile units are located at Inwood Pharmacy in Inwood, Burke Avenue Pharmacy in the East Bronx, and Rex Pharmacy in South Ozone Park.
“New York City may have been at the epicenter of the pandemic at the start, but now we are leading the way in prevention and mitigation,” Adams said. “By getting lifesaving medications into the hands of New Yorkers minutes after they test positive, we are once again leading the nation to quickly deliver accessible care to those who need it.”
In January, the city announced free same-day, at-home delivery of oral antiviral pills Paxlovid and Molnupiravir for New Yorkers who test positive and who are at elevated risk for severe illness. The FDA in December authorized the pills to treat Covid. Antiviral medications work best when taken at the outset of illness.
A big part of the program, which is part of a national effort launched by President Joe Biden earlier this year, is to address inequities that have surfaced throughout the pandemic. Vasan told reporters last week that the program helps, “chip away at some of the barriers that, in part, explain why people of color and people in less economically advantaged communities have had higher rates and worse outcomes from Covid.”
When the program expands to include 30 mobile units, the city will have the capacity to provide 6,000 Paxlovid prescriptions per day. Learn more here.