DENVER — A medical expert says that after three years of COVID-19, we're at a new stage of the pandemic and are also witnessing history.
Dr. Ricardo González-Fisher said that a year and a half ago, he did not expect to be able to talk about COVID-19 as being treatable. Now, he said there are many ways to treat it.
González-Fisher of Servicios de la Raza joined 9NEWS+ host Chris Bianchi to talk about the treatments available to Coloradans and where they can get them, even if they don't have a primary care doctor.
What treatments are available if people get COVID?
Gonzalez-Fisher: We have intravenous treatments that were being used two years ago, such as monoclonal antibodies. These are antibodies that are created in the laboratory that will react to certain parts of the virus.
Recently, we have been using combinations of antivirals. These are medications that will block the replication of the virus inside of our body.
And we have two oral medications: Paxlovid, which is manufactured by the Pfizer laboratory, and Molnupiravir, which is manufactured by Merck. They are two oral medications that people can take once they start having symptoms that will mitigate the symptoms and kill the disease faster.
Who should get the treatment?
Gonzalez-Fisher: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the definitions have changed and currently men and women 50 years of age or older are considered people at risk, much more risk if they are over 65 years old.
People who have a previously acquired respiratory infection, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), liver problems, immune problems, including diabetics. People who have any of these characteristics can go to their pharmacy – they have just authorized the pharmacist to do the test, and once they show that they have a positive test, they can start treatment in the first three days. Test to Treat gives the rare privilege to pharmacists. No appointments are needed most of the time.
What is the best and easiest way to receive treatment?
Gonzalez-Fisher: Talking on the phone or going to see your primary care provider. Many of the people we serve don't have a clinic, or a private doctor or primary care provider. If you don't have a doctor, then you can go to your pharmacy. They don't have to go to an emergency room.
You can go to the pharmacy, say ‘I feel sick, I think I have COVID,’ they test you and give you the treatment.
Are new treatments being developed?
Gonzalez-Fisher: New antivirals continue to be developed.
Fortunately, thanks to two things, one is the high percentage of the population that is vaccinated, and with it the risk of serious illness decreasing considerably. The second is that we are facing a variant of the virus that, although it is very contagious, does not generate such extreme symptoms.
So at this time, we do not need more aggressive treatments. But I insist on being alert, wearing a mask and getting vaccinated.
People really need to be vaccinated. We don't know when there is going to be a shift in the virus and we're going to be fighting a virus that is going to be more aggressive. We know the vaccines work and they're safe.
Servicios De La Raza, the state's largest nonprofit serving Latinos, will continue to offer its vaccination clinic each week on Thursdays.
Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., they will have a mobile clinic at the Mexican Consulate, at 5350 Leetsdale Drive, Suite #100. You do not need to be Mexican or have any business at the consulate to get a vaccine.
Vaccines are also available from 4 to 8 p.m. at the organization, which is at 3131 W. 14th Ave. Appointments are not required but are recommended. People can call 303-458-5851 to make an appointment.
No form of identification, Social Security number or health insurance is required to get vaccinated.
This weekend they will have their mobile clinic at West Middle School, at 123 W. Orchard Ave. in Grand Junction: Saturday from 9 to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon.
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