President Joe Biden laid out plans for the next phase in the fight against COVID-19 during his State of the Union address Tuesday. His plan includes more free tests, quickly deploying new vaccines if needed and staying ready for new variants with vaccines and treatments
UCSF Infections Disease Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong weighed in on Biden’s test to treat initiative Thursday. Biden's new plan would allow people to get tested at pharmacies and if they’re positive, immediately receive anti-viral pills at the same time.
“My reaction is very positive in general you want to have a low barrier intervention and having pharmacies dispense on the spot. When you are positive without a lot of hemming and hawing,” he said.
But he added that the details are key.
“Making sure you treat the right population making sure the right counseling and education is done and making sure everyone knows about this intervention not just the people who are really well informed in general,” Chin-Hong said.
Dr. Richard Dang, president of the California Pharmacists Association said that he was pleased to hear about President Biden’s plan and added that he’s waiting on details as well.
“With the new medications that are available to treat COVID-19, the time that it takes for you to start the medication after you first experience onset is incredibly important,” he said.
Like many sectors, staffing has been a real concern. Pharmacists have been stretched thin during the pandemic.
“That is definitely something that will add to the workload of our pharmacies we’re really looking for pharmacy companies especially the large corporations to support our pharmacists with adequate staffing,” he said.
Officials said it’s important to ensure that while medication is free to patients that the government cover the costs to provide treatment by pharmacists.