U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.

Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

Https

The site is secure.

The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

WHAT ARE ORAL ANTIVIRALS?

Oral antivirals are medicines taken by mouth that help the body fight off viruses that can cause disease.

Find therapeutic locations

If you are at risk for serious COVID-19 and you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 5 days, you may want to consider taking prescription oral antiviral pills. Two treatments are available: Paxlovid (Pfizer) and Lagevrio (molnupiravir) (Merck). You may qualify for one of these COVID-19 treatments depending on your age, health history, and how long you have had symptoms.

Oral antiviral treatment may help your body fight COVID-19 by stopping the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) from multiplying in your body, lowering the amount of the virus within your body, or helping your immune system. By getting treatment, you could have less serious symptoms and may lower the chances of your illness getting worse and needing care in the hospital.

This page gives information about the oral antiviral treatments that have an Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These treatments may help people at higher risk for serious COVID-19 with mild to moderate symptoms from getting worse.


HOW DO I QUALIFY FOR PAXLOVID OR LAGEVRIO?

You may be eligible for oral antiviral treatment if you:

  • Are at high risk of getting more serious symptoms
  • Have tested positive for COVID-19
  • Are not in the hospital but have mild to moderate symptoms for 5 days or less

Paxlovid and Lagevrio require a prescription from a healthcare professional. You must have tested positive for COVID-19 and your symptoms must have started no later than within the last 5 days. To be eligible for Lagevrio, you must be at least 18 years of age. To be eligible for Paxlovid, you must be at least 12 years of age and weigh at least 88 pounds.

If you think you may be at higher risk, visit Who is at High Risk for Serious COVID-19? to learn more.

Image
child receiving test

Test to Treat

The Test to Treat initiative is a nation wide program where people can get tested for COVID-19 and, if eligible, receive a prescription for an oral antiviral medication all at one time.

Test to Treat

Image
masked woman with a masked infant

WHAT IF I AM PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING?

You should inform your healthcare professional if you are pregnant, could become pregnant, or are breastfeeding before taking an oral antiviral. Your healthcare professional can decide if an oral antiviral treatment is an option for you.

 


WILL MY BIRTH CONTROL STILL BE EFFECTIVE DURING AND AFTER TREATMENT?

Oral antivirals could affect your birth control and you may be advised to use other additional birth control methods. Birth control considerations are important for both men and women. Ask your healthcare professional for more information about birth control before taking oral antivirals.


WHAT IF I HAVE AN UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITION SUCH AS KIDNEY OR LIVER PROBLEMS?

Before taking any medication, you should discuss your health history with your healthcare professional. This includes telling them about any health conditions you may already have and prescribed medications, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements you are taking.

People with any kidney or liver problems should talk to their healthcare professional about their condition before taking an oral antiviral medication. Your healthcare professional can decide if an oral antiviral treatment is right for you and if your dose is appropriate. Some treatments may not be recommended for people with certain conditions.

Image
masked people in a pharmacy looking at a prescription

HOW DO I TAKE THE ORAL ANTIVIRAL AND WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS?

Getting oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19 means that you will be taking pills. You should take the oral antiviral treatment as directed by your healthcare professional. Do not skip doses or take extra doses if you miss a dose. You should take all of the treatment as directed until you have completed them or until your healthcare professional tells you to stop. Oral antivirals may be taken with or without food and it is recommended that the pills are swallowed whole, without breaking or crushing them.


WHAT IF I DO NOT QUALIFY FOR AN ORAL ANTIVIRAL TREATMENT?

You and your healthcare professional may decide you do not qualify for an oral antiviral treatment or that it is not right for you. There could be several reasons for this. You may not meet all eligibility criteria, or you may have a health condition that may not be suitable for certain treatments.

Whatever the reason is, do not give up. There could be another option. You may be eligible to receive a different treatment option such as monoclonal antibodies or join a clinical trial.

Possible treatment options

What are monoclonal antibodies?

Join a treatment clinical trial