Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid becoming available in NWT this week

Paxlovid, the Covid-19 antiviral treatment newly approved by Health Canada, will become available in the Northwest Territories this week, the NWT’s health authority says.

Manufactured by Pfizer, Paxlovid is a prescription pill now authorized for use to combat mild to moderate cases of Covid-19 in adults if there is considered to be a risk that the person may become seriously ill.

The NWT said it expects to receive a first shipment of the pill this week and distribute the pill to regional centres.


You need a prescription from a physician to access the drug, after which you can take it home and use it in the five-day period after symptoms appear.

While vaccination remains the number-one defence health officials recommend against Covid-19, the advent of an approved oral treatment for infection could alter how jurisdictions approach the pandemic if the pill proves as effective as early results suggest.

Paxlovid contains a protease inhibitor that works to prevent the virus replicating within human cells and thereby lessens its spread – and its capability to cause severe disease.

In December, Pfizer said its research showed Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization due to severe Covid-19 by 89 percent within three days of symptom onset. That study involved around 2,200 people at a high risk of developing severe Covid-19.

“Due to limitations of initial supply, treatment will be reserved for those at highest risk of severe outcomes from Covid-19,” the territory’s health authority said in a statement on Thursday.


“Decisions about who may be eligible for this new treatment option will be made by NWT physicians based on criteria that is currently being finalized by the NWT Health and Social Services Authority.”

The health authority said community health nurses would be “aware and able to consult” with physicians or nurse practitioners so residents of smaller communities can access Paxlovid.

“Distribution will not be limited to communities with in-person physician presence,” the authority said.