COVID-19 pill rollout stymied by shortages as Omicron rages

Two brand-new COVID-19 pills that are supposed to be an important weapon against the pandemic in the US are in short supply and have played little role in the fight against the Omicron wave of infections.

The problem is that production is not yet at full strength and that the pill considered to be far superior, Pfizer’s, takes six to eight months to manufacture.

While the supply is expected to improve dramatically in the coming months, doctors are clamoring for the pills now, not just because Omicron is causing an explosion of cases but because two antibody drugs that were once the go-to treatments don’t work as well against the variant.

“This should be a really joyous time because we now have highly effective antiviral pills,” says Erin McCreary, a pharmacist and administrator at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Instead, this feels like the hardest and most chaotic stretch of the pandemic.”

The pills — and other COVID-19 drugs, for that matter — are being carefully rationed, reserved for the highest-risk patients.

Pfizer’s antiviral COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid. (Courtesy)

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