SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — COVID-19 cases are increasing once again, but doctor’s say we have more tools than ever before to live with the virus, and avoid hospitalization and death.

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong infectious disease specialist, says more people need to know about about Paxlovid – a drug designed to treat COVID.

“I think the main thing for people to do is to know that Paxlovid is there,” the doctor says. “Not only people in the community but healthcare providers everywhere. We’re not using it enough.”

That issue caused San Francisco County to turn away thousands of doses of Paxlovid earlier this year.
With a recent rise in COVID cases, Chin-Hong says he wants to see more demand for the drug.

“It involves having a conversation with your healthcare professional,” he says. “It requires a prescription, and it also, most importantly requires somebody to check drug interactions.”

Right now, the emergency use authorization is for anyone over the age of 12 who is at a serious risk of a bad outcome or unvaccinated, but he says everyone should be aware of it, because it can benefit anyone with the virus.

“From a virus perspective what we do know is the viral load associated with being positive or infected drops faster if you take Paxlovid,” Chin-Hong said.

He believes it could become a common way of treating COVID.

“In the future I can see if being used for a variety of reasons just as we use tamaflu what someone has influenza,” he said.

Recently there have been reports of people having relapsing symptoms after taking Paxlovid.

“It’s a very rare situation,” says the doctor. “It happened also in the group who weren’t treated with Paxlovid and they were treated with a placebo so it’s unclear what this means.”

A course of Paxlovid lasts five days. Right now only one course is recommended even if symptoms reappear.