As COVID-19 case counts have ticked up in the U.S., so too has utilization of oral antivirals from Pfizer and Merck.
Pfizer pill Paxlovid saw a 315% rise in use over the past month, U.S. health officials said on Tuesday. Courses dispensed for Merck’s Lagevrio (molnupiravir) grew 200% during that same period.
Both drugs received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in December and initially saw light demand. That prompted the White House to roll out a series of initiatives designed to expand access to the treatments.
Today, they’re available at more than 50,000 locations nationwide, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. More than 88% of the American population lives within five miles of a site.
As of May 14, providers had dispensed 668,954 Paxlovid courses out of the available supply of 3.3 million, per HHS data. 230,257 courses of Lagevrio have been given, versus nearly 1.8 million ordered by the federal government.
Both drugs are started within five days of symptom onset and are meant to prevent patients with COVID-19 from progressing to a severe case.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is averaging about 97,000 new COVID cases a day, according to a Reuters report . That’s up from about 73,000 daily infections a week ago and the recent low of about 30,000 in late March.
Accounting for roughly half of those infections is the BA.2.12.1 sublineage of the Omicron variant, which has been steadily rising since mid-April, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.
Almost 20,000 people are hospitalized around the country, an increase from 16,500 last week, by Reuters’ count. That number has crept up since a low of 12,000 in mid-April.
Deaths, a lagging indicator, have averaged between 300 and 500 a day. The country recently passed the grim milestone of one million deaths due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.