Treatments for COVID-19
What You Should Know
For most people who become sick with COVID-19, home care is sufficient to address symptoms of illness, such as getting plenty of rest and drinking water to stay hydrated. Taking medications, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, may also help to reduce fever. For individuals at risk for severe disease based on their age or medical conditions, medications specifically to fight COVID-19 are available.
Medical Outpatient Treatment
If you are higher risk for severe illness or hospitalization due to an underlying health condition(s) or are immunocompromised, your healthcare provider may recommend that you receive treatment to prevent your condition from worsening. Contact a health professional right away after a positive test to determine if you may be eligible due to your higher-risk status or underlying condition, even if your symptoms are mild right now. Treatment must be started within the first few days to be effective.
The two main treatment options for COVID-19 infection, beyond home care, are:
Depending on your medical history, risks, and symptoms, your health care provider can help you determine the best therapeutic option for you.
If you do not have a healthcare professional, call 1-877-332-6585 to find out who to talk with about your symptoms and treatment.
Antivirals ("Test to Treat")
Antivirals are medicines that can help treat COVID-19 in individuals who are considered high risk for severe illness. They are available by prescription only to qualifying individuals.
Through the federal “Test to Treat” program, people who test positive for COVID-19 can be assessed by a qualified health care provider at local pharmacy-based clinics and federally-qualified community health centers (FHQCs) who can prescribe antiviral pills on the spot. Individuals who receive COVID-19 test results through at-home tests or another testing site can also utilize a Test to Treat location to receive a prescription from a qualified health care provider and treatment on the spot, if eligible. The oral antivirals—Paxlovid™ and molnupiravir—are authorized for patients who have mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 and are not in the hospital. Paxlovid is for patients ages 12 and older weighing at least 88 pounds; molnupiravir is for patients ages 18 and older.
Oral antivirals may interfere with other drugs and impact other health conditions, so it’s important to discuss the medications you're taking and preexisting health conditions you have with your healthcare provider. If eligible, your provider can appropriately prescribe oral antivirals for you at locations where they are being distributed.
For antiviral pills to be most effective, they need to be taken as early in the disease course as possible and within five days of symptom onset. Find an antiviral Test to Treat participating site near you.
The FDA has also approved an antiviral injection, or shot, called remdesivir (also known as Veklury), which can be given to adults and to children as young as 28 days old. Remdesivir is approved for use in hospitalized patients and non-hospitalized patients who are at high-risk for progression to severe COVID-19. Because it is an injection, remdesivir is only available to non-hospitalized patients through healthcare facilities and outpatient infusion centers. Talk to your healthcare provider about your risk of progression to severe disease and how to locate this treatment.
Read more about antiviral options for COVID-19 here.
Monoclonal antibodies are made in a lab and work similarly to antibodies your immune system makes to fight infection. Monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment helps your body fight COVID-19 while your immune system begins to make its own antibodies. Treatment can lower the amount of virus in your body, reduce symptoms and help avoid hospitalization.
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive and are high-risk for serious illness, you may be eligible for mAb treatment. Contact a health care provider right away after a positive test to determine if you may be eligible, even if your symptoms are mild right now. Treatment must be started within the first few days to be effective.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized two mAb products for emergency use in the treatment of COVID-19: sotrovimab and bebtelovimab. Both medications have been shown to work against the COVID-19 Omicron variant and are intended to prevent severe illness in high-risk patients with COVID-19. Your provider will be able to determine which product is right for you. These treatments are administered intravenously (with an IV) by a health care provider in an outpatient setting.
The FDA has also authorized for emergency use a third mAb product, Evusheld (tixagevimab/cilgavimab). Unlike other mAb medications used for COVID-19, Evusheld is not a treatment for COVID-19. Evusheld is given as a preventative medication (i.e., prior to infection or exposure to COVID-19) to those who have significant immune disorders. It keeps the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 from entering the cells of the body, preventing illness. A health care provider will determine whether Evusheld is an appropriate treatment and when an individual will receive the medication.
To learn more about monoclonal antibodies and what to expect if you get a mAb treatment, go here.
Find a mAb treatment provider.
There are many organizations researching COVID-19 and potential treatments, and these studies often need individuals who have tested positive to participate. Clinical trials are very important, but not all of them are legitimate. If you’re interested in participating in a COVID-19 research study, the Federal Trade Commission has guidance to help you determine whether a clinical trial is real or fake.
Before starting any medical treatment, talk with your healthcare provider. If you do not have a healthcare professional, call 1-877-332-6585 to find out who to talk with about your symptoms and treatment.
You can learn more about clinical trials on the National Institutes of Health website, a trusted source of information. Please note, Maricopa County Department of Public Health is not affiliated with clinical trials nor do we endorse them, and participation is entirely voluntary and between the individual and the research organization.
Although most people with COVID-19 get better within weeks of illness, some people experience post-COVID conditions. Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Even people who did not have COVID-19 symptoms in the days or weeks after they were infected can have post-COVID conditions (e.g., long Covid). These conditions can present as different types and combinations of health problems for different lengths of time.
Learn more about long-term Covid conditions on the CDC website.
Information for Healthcare Providers
Due to the rapidly evolving nature of the pandemic, it is recommended providers reference the HHS ASPR website for the latest updates on COVID-19 therapeutics and the NIH website for COVID-19 treatment guidelines.
Additional guidance on mAb and antiviral therapeutics may also be found on the AZDHS website.