KANSAS CITY, Kan. — COVID-19 cases are down, not only across Kansas City but across the country.
Now experts say we’re heading into a new phase of the pandemic, and they’re turning their attention on how we start “living with COVID-19.”
“They’re trying to make a point to America that things are much safer than they have been, which is true,” said Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer with the University of Kansas Health System.
That’s right: The light at the end of the tunnel might be starting to shine.
Doctors aren’t the only ones shifting their focus.
In his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden laid out a four-point plan on how we start coexisting with the virus. One major part is Biden’s new “Test to Treat” initiative, and at the center is an antiviral treatment from Pfizer.
“We start thinking immediately how can we get this to our patients to make sure to get this as soon as we can,” said Dr. Nathan Bahr, an infectious disease physician at KU Health System.
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 at a pharmacy will soon be able to get the antiviral COVID treatment immediately after — for free. Patients would take three tablets twice a day for five days.
Doctors say it’s proving to be nearly 90% effective at keeping COVID-19 patients from needing hospital care. That could be a game changer, they said.
“So this to me is the homerun, right — if we can make this treatment available to all my patients whether you have the means or not,” said Dr. Mario Castro, vice chair for clinical and translational research at KU Medical Center.
The president has ordered more than 1 million doses for March and more than double that for April.
FOX4 called nearly 10 pharmacies in the Kansas City area on Wednesday; none of them have been contacted yet about the Test to Treat plan.
Biden also laid out three other ways to move forward, including vaccinations, preparing for future variants and supplying schools and business with the tools to handle the virus.
“So for the first time in at least over a year we can feel lifted up again,” Stites said.
Even with these additional treatments coming to the market, Stites still emphasized the way that we truly defeat this virus is through vaccination.