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Two antiviral COVID medications are coming to Illinois soon

COVID testing
Free COVID-19 testing signs are displayed outside of COVID-19 testing site in Chicago, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced two new COVID-19 oral antiviral drugs will be coming to the state later this month.

In a statement Thursday, the department said Paxlovid and Molnupiravir will be available. Both medications can be taken by people who are diagnosed with mild-to-moderate cases of COVID to help prevent becoming seriously ill, including preventing hospitalization.

The department said Paxlovid may reduce the risk of hospitalization by 89%, and Molnupiravir, by 30%. The medications will be available by prescription only and should be taken as soon as possible after diagnosis.

“These new oral antivirals add new tools to our toolbox to keep people with COVID-19 out of the hospital,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike in a news release. “While vaccination, including boosters, is still the best way to avoid infection and prevent severe illness from COVID-19, these new antivirals given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration can help treat those who get infected and have a higher risk of becoming severely ill.”

IDPH is working with pharmacies across the state to provide the drugs. The department noted that the medications are free from the federal government, but will only be available in limited quantities.

The state expects to refresh its stock of the drugs every two weeks.