A new option COVID-19 treatment will arrive in San Diego county after the Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorizations for two new oral antiviral medications.

County health officials say Pfizer’s Pazloviod is expected in the coming days and Merick’s molnupiravir is expected to arrive in the region soon after. These oral medications are expected to be very limited in the region.

Emergency use of authorization of the oral medication was granted by the FDA on Wednesday, and it is recommended for people at high risk of developing severe COVID-19. Pfizer said it’s new pill reduces risk of hospitalization or death by nearly 90 percent. 

With a prescription from a medical provider for both drugs, a patient will receive the oral medication over the course of several days. The medication will be available to patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms who are at risk of progressing to severe coronavirus disease, including hospitalization or death.

“The FDA’s emergency use authorization of these new oral antivirals comes at a critical point in the pandemic as we see an increase in cases and a rapid spread of the Omicron variant,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “However, news of the arrival of these drugs does not mean we can let our guard down. We need to continue to mask up, especially in crowded indoor spaces, and I urge anyone who has not gotten vaccinated, or is overdue for their booster shot, to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Pfizer’s pill is the first oral antiviral drug to be authorized by the FDA specifically to fight off COVID-19. This comes as hospitals are bracing for a surge of the new Omicron Variant, which  reportedly spreads more than Delta, becoming the dominant strain in many areas. 

The Biden administration placed an order enough to treat 10 million Americans according to a Dec.14 statement. According to Whitehouse Press Secretary Jen Psaki, 250,000 of those doses will be available in January and the full package is not expected until the summer. 

The federal government approved Marick on Dec.23, and purchased over 3 million doses. The remaining Merick doses are anticipated by the end of January. 

Once the new oral antiviral treatments arrive in the region, they will initially be distributed through about two dozen area pharmacies. Pharmacy locations were pre-selected by the California Department of Public Health. The amount each pharmacy is receiving is based on community impact from the pandemic.

The state and County will expand distribution to more pharmacy locations as supplies increase.

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