Treatments for COVID-19

Medications for Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19 

This page provides information about prescription drugs and some other preparations that are or have been used for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. Several new prescription drugs have been found to be effective for preventing or treating COVID-19 and are approved and recommended for those uses. Some other drugs that have been used against COVID-19 have proven to be ineffective and are not recommended. Note that the federal government is responsible for ensuring the safety and effectiveness of drugs marketed in the United States. As a public health agency, we can only recommend medications that are approved and recommended by the federal agencies responsible for drug oversight.

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Recommended Medicines 

The following medicines have been shown to be beneficial to people who are recently infected with COVID-19 and at high risk of requiring hospitalization. This generally includes people who are unvaccinated, older than 60, significantly overweight, or have other medical conditions. People who have had symptoms for more than 7 days or are at normal or low risk are less likely to benefit from these drugs. This is why it is important to get tested right away if you have symptoms and contact your provider if you are positive to ensure you get the treatment you might need.

Paxlovid is a new oral antiviral medicine that has shown very promising results in clinical trials. It reduces the chances of hospitalization in high risk COVID-19 patients by 88% (from a 6% chance down to less than 1%). Paxlovid is available by prescription as 3 pills taken twice a day for 5 days. Side effects are minor but there can be interactions with other drugs and other medical issues to consider, so patients need to see a provider to get a prescription and make sure the drug is safe and will work for them. It can be used as late as 5 days after first symptoms or positive test.  

Remdesivir is another antiviral medicine that has been used for almost 2 years to help people hospitalized with COVID-19. Recent trials of its use for those who don’t yet need hospitalization have shown it can be even more effective when given as an outpatient intravenous infusion on three successive days. The chances of being hospitalized or dying are reduced 87% (from 5.3% to 0.7%). It's useful for people who don’t have other options for one reason or another. 

Bebtelovimab is the most recent monoclonal antibody treatment approved by the FDA for emergency use. It is more effective against the BA.2 omicron variant of the coronavirus than sotrovimab and may be especially useful if that variant becomes dominant.

Check out CDC's website for further information on possible treatments here

Check out CDPH's website for further information on possible treatments here.

Medicines that are not recommended 

Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine are older drugs that are used primarily against malaria. Both have been found to have anti-viral action in laboratory experiments. However, in randomized clinical trials, neither drug was effective in preventing infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. Other well-conducted studies found that neither chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine provided any clinical benefit to patients with Covid-19. The National Institutes of Health recommends against the use of hydroxychloroquine for preventing Covid-19 and against the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for treating Covid-19. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are not approved by the FDA for treatment of Covid-19 and the Emergency Use Authorization issued in 2020 has been revoked. For more information (and sources) click here and/or here.

Ivermectin is an existing drug that is used primarily to treat parasitic worm infections in animals and humans. High concentrations of ivermectin have shown anti-viral properties in laboratory experiments, but the doses needed to achieve those levels in humans would be far higher than for currently approved uses of the drug. Early studies evaluating the use of ivermectin for treating COVID-19 showed mixed results, but all of them were relatively small and most had major scientific weaknesses. The data were later found to be falsified in the largest study that showed beneficial effects of ivermectin. A recent re-analysis of the results that did not include the fraudulent study found that ivermectin had no significant benefit. The National Institutes of Health determined that there is not enough scientific evidence at this time to recommend for or against treating Covid-19 with ivermectin. More high-quality studies are needed to determine whether ivermectin is effective against Covid-19. Ivermectin is not approved by the FDA for treatment of Covid-19 or any other viral disease. For more information (and sources) click here and/or here.  

Bamlanivimab plus etesevimab and casirivimab plus imdevimab (brand name RegenCov). These monoclonal antibody treatments were used successfully to treat patients infected with the original strain of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and some later variants, but are not effective against the omicron variant of the virus. The National Institutes of Health now recommends against using bamlanivimab plus etesevimab or casirivimab plus imdevimab (RegenCovto treat Covid-19 and they haven't been used recently in Plumas County. For more information (and sources) click here

Vitamin and mineral supplements 

Vitamins and minerals are available without a prescription as dietary supplements. They are inexpensive and safe if taken as directed on the label. Vitamin C, Vitamin D and zinc have been evaluated for prevention of COVID-19, but there are no randomized clinical trials showing value to any of these supplements to prevent or treat COVID-19. The National Institutes of Health have concluded that there is not enough information at this time to recommend for or against the use of vitamins or minerals to for COVID-19. Further studies to evaluate their effectiveness are in progress. For more information (and sources) click here.