Getting treatment for COVID-19

Last updated on January 18, 2022.

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If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you may be able to get therapeutic treatment, including monoclonal antibody therapy or oral antivirals (collectively referred to as therapeutics) to help you recover. There are two main types of treatments: monoclonal antibody therapy and oral antivirals.

Right now, Colorado’s supply of therapeutics is determined at the federal level. As of January 2022, the federal government is supplying an extremely limited quantity of these medications, significantly impacting the number of people who are able to receive therapeutic treatment. We are hopeful that the supply of monoclonal antibody treatment and oral antivirals will ramp up significantly in the coming months.

Monoclonal antibody therapy 

Monoclonal antibody therapy gives you extra antibodies to help fight COVID-19. Your body naturally makes antibodies to fight infection. However, it takes time for your body to make enough antibodies to fight a new virus like COVID-19. Monoclonal antibodies, or mAbs, are made in a laboratory to fight a particular infection—in this case, COVID-19. They are given to patients to help fight the infection faster than your body could do on its own.

Right now, there are two different types of monoclonal antibody therapies available in Colorado. 

  • Sotrovimab is for people who already have COVID-19, have mild to moderate symptoms, and are at high risk of getting very sick. Evusheld is for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised or who can’t get vaccinated against COVID-19. It can help keep you from getting sick with COVID-19. It isn’t for people who already have COVID-19.

There are a few different ways to get monoclonal antibody therapy in Colorado: 

  1. Talk with your doctor or health care provider. If you are eligible, your health care provider will write a prescription for you and help you find a place to get treatment.

  2. Make an appointment to receive treatment at a state-led clinic. Call the COVID-19 hotline at 1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926) for help making an appointment. The hotline is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. MT. You can also find a list of upcoming available appointments at COMassVax.org. ** Limited appointments are available. 

    Kaiser Permanente Lone Tree clinic: Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. - 4  p.m.

    Kaiser Permanente Denver Regional clinic: Tuesday - Saturday 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

    Denver Health Pena UC: Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. & Sat/Sun 9a.m. - 3 p.m. 

    Pagosa Springs Health Center: Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

  3. Reach out to a health care provider who is offering treatment in Colorado. You can also find places to get treatment at The National Infusion Center Association or the HHS Protect Locator.

  • Colorado’s supply of monoclonal antibody therapy is limited at this time. We are hopeful that our supply will increase in the coming months.

  • Because supply is limited, the state distributes monoclonal antibody therapies to health care providers who are best able to administer them to the patients who are most at risk. 

  • Some state-led clinics may have sotrovimab available.

  • Initial supplies of Evusheld are being distributed to transplant centers, as well as some hospitals, health care systems, and long-term care pharmacies. State-led clinics do not administer Evusheld. For more information on receiving Evusheld, please talk with your health care provider.

  • Two other monoclonal antibody therapies, bamlanivimab/etesevimab and REGEN-COV, are unlikely to be effective against omicron. However, they have been proven to be effective against other COVID-19 variants. For more information on receiving bamlanivimab/etesevimab and REGEN-COV, please talk with your health care provider.

Adults and children 12 years and older weighing at least 40 kg may be eligible for sotrovimab if they:

  • Have tested positive for COVID-19, and

  • Have mild to moderate symptoms of the disease for 10 days or less, and

  • Are at high risk of becoming seriously ill.

People who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 or require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19 are not eligible for monoclonal antibody therapy.

See the How Do I Know If I’m High Risk, and What Do I Do Next? page on CombatCOVID.hhs.gov to learn more.

Additionally, some people who are at high risk for severe illness may qualify for a certain monoclonal antibody therapy before they test positive if they:

  • Are not fully vaccinated or don’t have enough protection from the vaccine, and

  • Have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

This is called post-exposure prophylaxis. Talk to your health care provider if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 to see if you qualify. Not all locations offer post-exposure prophylaxis, so be sure to check with the treatment site in advance. In addition, sotrovimab, the monoclonal antibody that is likely effective against omicron, is not currently authorized for post-exposure prophylaxis. Monoclonal antibody therapy is not a substitute for vaccination against COVID-19. Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep from getting sick with COVID-19. 

People at risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 include:

  • People who are 65 years old or older.

  • Babies who are less than 1 year old.

  • People who are obese or overweight. This includes adults with a BMI of 25 or more. It also includes children under age 18 years old whose providers determine they meet the criteria.

  • Pregnant people.

  • People with certain underlying medical conditions.

Evusheld is available as a preventive treatment for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and may not be fully protected after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. It is also for people who cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine due to an allergy. Only people who are not currently infected with COVID-19 and have not recently been exposed to COVID-19 can receive Evusheld.

Evusheld is not  treatment for people who are already infected with COVID-19. It also can’t be used as post-exposure prophylaxis for people who have been exposed to COVID-19.

  • Monoclonal antibody treatment gives you extra antibodies to help fight COVID-19. 

  • Your body naturally makes antibodies to fight infection. However, it takes time for your body to make enough antibodies to fight a new virus like COVID-19. 

  • Monoclonal antibodies, or mAbs, are made in a laboratory to fight a particular infection—in this case, COVID-19. They are given to patients directly with an infusion to help fight the infection faster than your body could do on its own. 

  • Early evidence suggests that monoclonal antibody treatment can reduce the amount of the COVID-19 virus in your system. This amount is called “viral load.” Having a lower viral load means you may have milder symptoms, which may make it less likely that you’ll need to go to the hospital.

  • Depending on what kind of treatment you get, you may receive your infusion through an IV (sotrovimab), single intramuscular injection (Evusheld) or as a series of injections under the skin (Bamlanivimab/etesevimab and REGEN-COV). 

    • The IV infusion of sotrovimab involves placing a needle in a vein and slowly sending the medicine into the body. It takes about 30 minutes to receive the IV infusion. 

    • The single intramuscular injection of Evusheld is similar to receiving an injection for a vaccine.

    • The Bamlanivimab/etesevimab and REGEN-COV injections involve four shots, each one in a different part of your body (for example, your arm or leg). It takes about five to 10 minutes to receive the injections.

  • No matter what kind of treatment you receive, the provider treating you will ask you to stay in the office for one hour after the infusion or injection(s) to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction or other side effects that could require medical care. 

  • The whole appointment should last about an hour and a half.

  • Antibody treatments may have side effects. 

  • Allergic reactions can happen during and after an antibody infusion. 

  • Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get any of the following symptoms of allergic reactions: fever; chills; nausea; headache; shortness of breath; low blood pressure; wheezing; swelling of your lips, face, or throat; rash, including hives; itching; muscle aches; and/or dizziness. 

  • An infusion or injection of any medicine may cause brief pain, bleeding, bruising of the skin, soreness, swelling, and possible infection at the infusion site.

  • Talk to your doctor if you experience any side effect that bothers you or does not go away quickly.

Oral antivirals

Oral antivirals are pills that can help treat COVID-19. Right now, there are two types of oral antiviral pills that have been authorized by the FDA.

Supplies of Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s molnupiravir (oral antivirals) were allocated to some hospitals/health systems with outpatient pharmacies. Subsequent allocations will be expanded to include federally qualified health centers, local public health agencies and select retail pharmacy locations.

As of now, there are two oral antivirals the Federal Drug Administration has authorized under EUA.

  1. Paxlovid

    • Paxlovid is for people who have mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms and are at high risk of getting very sick. People age 12 years or older who weigh at least 40 kilograms (about 88 pounds) can take Paxlovid. It is available by prescription only. 

    • People who are eligible for Paxlovid should receive it as soon as possible after they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, starting within five days of their first symptoms.

  2. Molnupiravir

    • Molnupiravir is for people who have tested positive for COVID-19, are at high risk of getting very sick, and cannot receive other COVID-19 treatments. Only adults age 18 years and older can take molnupiravir. Molnupiravir is available by prescription only. 

    • People who are eligible for molnupiravir should receive it as soon as possible after they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, ideally within five days of their first symptoms. 

    • Pregnant people should not take molnupiravir. People who may become pregnant should use effective birth control while they are receiving the treatment and for four days after their last dose.

    • Breastfeeding is not recommended while taking molnupiravir. If you are lactating while taking this treatment, you should pump and discard your breast milk until four days have passed since your last dose.

  • Talk with your doctor or health care provider. Let them know you have tested positive for COVID-19 and want to get antiviral treatment. If you are eligible, your health care provider may be able to help you find a place to get treatment.

  • You can also reach out to a health care provider who is offering treatment in Colorado.

Right now, oral antivirals are authorized for people who:

  • Are age 12 years or older for Pfizer’s Paxlovid or age 18 years or older for Merck’s molnupiravir, and 

  • Have tested positive for COVID-19, and

  • Have had symptoms for less than 5 days, and

  • Are at high risk of becoming seriously ill. People at at high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 include:

    • People who are 65 years old or older.

    • People who are obese or overweight. This includes adults with a BMI of 25 or more. It also includes children under age 18 years old whose providers determine they meet the criteria.

    • Pregnant people (for Paxlovid only).

    • People with certain underlying medical conditions.

See the How Do I Know If I’m High Risk, and What Do I Do Next? page on CombatCOVID.hhs.gov to learn more.

Oral antivirals to treat COVID-19 are not a substitute for vaccination against COVID-19. Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep from getting sick with COVID-19. 

  • Paxlovid

    • Paxlovid consists of two different medications taken at the same time. The first is called nirmatrelvir. This medicine stops the COVID-19 virus from copying itself. The second is called ritonavir. Ritonavir helps keep nirmatrelvir from breaking down in the body, helping it work longer.

    • Paxlovid is administered as three tablets (two tablets of nirmatrelvir and one tablet of ritonavir) taken together orally twice daily for five days, for a total of 30 tablets.

  • Molnupiravir

    • Molnupiravir works by introducing errors into the COVID-19 virus’s genetic code. This prevents the virus from copying itself.

    • Molnupiravir is administered as four capsules taken orally every 12 hours for five days, for a total of 40 capsules.

 Both antivirals are authorized for use no longer than five consecutive days.

  • Paxlovid

    • Possible side effects of Paxlovid include impaired sense of taste, diarrhea, high blood pressure, and muscle aches.

    • Using Paxlovid in people with uncontrolled or undiagnosed HIV-1 infection may lead to HIV-1 drug resistance.

    • Ritonavir may cause liver damage, so caution should be exercised when giving Paxlovid to patients with preexisting liver diseases, liver enzyme abnormalities, or liver inflammation.

    • Using Paxlovid at the same time as certain other drugs may result in potentially significant drug interactions. Find a list of those drugs on Paxlovid’s FDA fact sheet.

    • There is no experience treating pregnant or breastfeeding people with Paxlovid. For a pregnant person and unborn baby, the benefit of taking Paxlovid may be greater than the risk from the treatment. If you are pregnant, discuss your options and specific situation with your health care provider. 

  • Molnupiravir

    • Side effects observed in clinical trials included diarrhea, nausea, and dizziness.

    • Molnupiravir is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Pregnant people should only take molnupiravir if their health care provider decides that the benefits outweigh the risks.

    • People who may become pregnant should use a reliable method of birth control correctly and consistently while taking molnupiravir and for four days after the final dose.

    • If you are sexually active with a partner who might become pregnant, you should use a reliable method of birth control consistently and currently while you are taking molnupiravir and for at least three months after the first dose.