Therapeutic Options for COVID-19 Patients - Minnesota Dept. of Health
CDC's new COVID-19 by County community level recommendations do not apply in health care settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes. Instead, health care settings should continue to use CDC's COVID Data Tracker community transmission rates and continue to follow CDC and MDH's infection prevention and control recommendations for health care settings.

Therapeutic Options for COVID-19 Patients

Information about investigational medication treatments (therapeutics), to be updated as new information is available.

Antiviral Therapy Resources for Providers
Includes eligibility, treatment options, management of drug interactions, and pharmacy locations for prescribing outpatient antiviral therapy for acute COVID-19. Antiviral Resources: medication bottle and IV bag icons

Oral antivirals

New oral antivirals for the treatment of COVID-19 include molnupiravir and nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid). These have received emergency use authorization from the FDA, and are being distributed to states by the federal government. These therapies are for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in outpatients and are not authorized for the treatment of patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 or for pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis.

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  • Nirmatrelvir/ritonavir is an oral antiviral treatment that combines a SARS-CoV-2 protease inhibitor (nirmatrelvir) with ritonavir, an HIV-1 protease inhibitor and CYP3A inhibitor. Ritonavir acts as a pharmacological booster to increase the levels of nirmatrelvir. It is authorized for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in patients at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Treatment must be started within five days of symptom onset and is given as a five-day treatment course. In the EPIC-HR trial, ritonavir-boosted nirmatrelvir (Paxlovid) reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 88% compared to placebo in nonhospitalized adults with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection.

NOTE: The following are limitations to the use of Paxlovid:

  • Paxlovid is not authorized for use in patients younger than 12 years.
  • Paxlovid is not recommended for use in patients with severe renal impairment (GFR<30ml/min) or hepatic impairment (Child-Pugh Class C).
  • For patients with moderate renal impairment (GFR 30-60ml/min), the dose of nirmatrelvir should be reduced from 300mg to 150mg (refer to FDA: Fact Sheet for Providers below).

Due to the co-administration with ritonavir, it is critical to evaluate the patient medication regimen for potentially serious drug-drug interactions prior to prescribing Paxlovid. Please refer to guidance on Antiviral Therapy Resources for Providers.

There have been recent case reports of COVID-19 rebound following treatment with Paxlovid. These cases of COVID-19 rebound had negative test results after Paxlovid treatment and resolution of symptoms, followed by recurrence of symptoms and positive viral antigen and/or PCR testing. The limited information currently available suggests that these patients typically have mild illness that resolves within days without additional COVID-19 treatment, but patients should still be counseled to follow isolation guidance. More information for providers is available at CDC Health Alert Network: COVID-19 Rebound After Paxlovid Treatment. Health care providers are encouraged to report cases of COVID-19 rebound to Pfizer using Pfizer's COVID-19 Treatment Adverse Event Reporting online tool and to the FDA using MedWatch: The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program.

  • Molnupiravir is an oral nucleoside analogue that inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication by inducing viral mutagenesis. It is authorized for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in patients at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Treatment must be started within five days of symptom onset and is given as a five-day treatment course. In the MOVe-OUT trial, molnupiravir reduced the rate of hospitalization or death by 30% compared to placebo.

NOTE: the following are limitations to the use of molnupiravir.

  • Molnupiravir is not authorized for use in patients younger than 18 years.
  • Molnupiravir is not recommended for use in pregnancy. Patients of childbearing potential should be advised to use effective contraception correctly and consistently, as applicable, for the duration of treatment and for four days after the last dose of molnupiravir.
  • Molnupiravir is not recommended for use while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not recommended during treatment and for four days after the last dose of molnupiravir. A lactating individual may consider interrupting breastfeeding and may consider pumping and discarding breast milk during treatment and for four days after the last dose of molnupiravir.

More information can be found at Antiviral Therapy Resources for Providers.

Monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment

Monoclonal antibody treatments are available through Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorizations (EUA) for the prevention and treatment of illness due to COVID-19 in nonhospitalized people.

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Certain circulating SARS-CoV-2 viral variants may be associated with resistance to monoclonal antibodies. Health care providers should review the viral neutralization data in the authorized fact sheets for each mAb available under EUA for details regarding specific variants and resistance (see below). Information on the proportion of SARS-CoV-2 variants circulating in the U.S. is available on CDC COVID Data Tracker: Variant Proportions and will be updated regularly.

Please note that although sequencing information is helpful on a population level, individual patient results will not be reported back to the provider or submitting laboratory. Whole genome sequencing is not currently approved for use as a diagnostic test to make individual patient treatment decisions. In addition, the lengthy turnaround time for this type of testing means it is unsuitable for treatment decisions involving mAbs, which should be given as soon as possible once a patient has developed symptoms and tests positive.

Bebtelovimab is available for use through HHS allocation and distribution. It received emergency use authorization on Feb. 11, 2022, for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in non-hospitalized patients.

Bebtelovimab is authorized for use only in patients for whom alternative COVID-19 treatment options approved or authorized by FDA are not accessible or clinically appropriate. It is thought to be effective against the Omicron variant, including the BA.2 subvariant. It is administered by IV injection.

Note: As of 3 p.m. on June 30, 2022, the MNRAP platform is no longer available for referrals. Providers who wish to refer a patient for bebtelovimab may use the HHS COVID-19 Therapeutics Locator to find health care facilities that have received shipments of COVID-19 therapeutics. Data in this locator is based on stock on hand reported by locations within the past two weeks and is not a guarantee of availability.

Tixagevimab/cilgavimab is available for use through HHS allocation and distribution.

  • AstraZeneca: Evusheld (tixagevimab/cilgavimab)
    Website of the manufacturer of tixagevimab/cilgavimab. Visit additional links, resources, and guidance to facilities administering the treatment, including:
    • FDA letter of authorization
    • Fact sheet for U.S. health care providers
    • Fact sheet for patients and caregivers in English
  • FDA: Evusheld Letter of Authorization (PDF)
    Letter for emergency use authorization of tixagevimab/cilgavimab, updated Feb. 24, 2022.
  • FDA authorizes revisions to Evusheld dosing
    • FDA recommends increasing the initial dose of tixagevimab/cilgavimab to 300mg/300mg, due to concerns about decreased activity about certain Omicron subvariants.
    • Patients who received an initial dose of 150mg of tixagevimab and 150mg of cilgavimab should receive an additional dose of 150mg of each to raise their monoclonal antibody levels to those expected for patients receiving the higher dose.
    • Please refer to the updated Evusheld Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers for more details.
  • Operational Guidance for Tixagevimab/Cilgavimab (PDF)
    Updated 5/16/22
    MDH guidance on allocation and distribution of tixagevimab/cilgavimab to treatment facilities and patients, including details of clinical prioritization of patients at highest risk. As of April 25, 2022, MDH is no longer recommending that providers restrict use to the clinical categories listed in MDH guidance. As long as supply remains adequate to ensure that patients at highest risk can continue to access treatment, providers may prescribe based on the FDA EUA eligibility criteria.
  • COVID-19 Therapeutics Locator
    National map displaying locations that have received supplies of COVID-19 therapeutics, including tixagevimab/cilgavimab.

Providers with questions about the availability of tixagevimab/cilgavimab should contact the patient's specialist provider for information.

Tixagevimab/cilgavimab likely retains some activity against the Omicron variant but full data are not yet available. Patients receiving tixagevimab/cilgavimab should be counseled about continuing all other COVID-19 mitigation efforts including vaccination of family and caregivers; diligent, high-quality mask wearing when recommended; and avoidance of large gatherings.

  • As of Jan. 24, 2022, REGEN-COV (casirivimab/imdevimab) and bamlanivimab/etesevimab are no longer authorized for use due to lack of activity against circulating variants.
  • As of March 30, 2022, sotrovimab is no longer authorized for use in Minnesota due to lack of activity against circulating variants.

Remdesivir

Remdesivir is approved by the FDA under the name Veklury for the treatment of COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients (ages 28 days and older and weighing at least 3 kg) who are either hospitalized or who are not hospitalized but have mild to moderate COVID-19 and are at high risk for progression to severe illness.

It was previously approved only in hospitalized patients, but approval was expanded by the FDA on Jan. 21, 2022, to include use in non-hospitalized patients: FDA Takes Actions to Expand Use of Treatment for Outpatients with Mild-to-Moderate COVID-19. The approval was expanded again on April 25, 2022, to include pediatric patients ages 28 days and older and weighing at least 3 kg: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Approves First COVID-19 Treatment for Young Children.

Remdesivir has been studied in non-hospitalized patients with mild to moderate illness who are at high risk of progressing to more severe illness. A clinical trial (PINETREE) showed that three consecutive days of IV remdesivir resulted in an 87% reduction in the risk of hospitalization or death compared to placebo.

  • Dosing is 200mg IV on day 1, followed by 100mg IV once daily on days two and three
  • Treatment should be initiated as soon as possible and within seven days of symptom onset

More information:

More information can be found at Antiviral Therapy Resources for Providers.

Other treatments

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COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) is human plasma obtained from donors who have recovered from COVID-19. It may contain antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 that suppress viral replication. As of Dec. 28, 2021, CCP with high titers of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies is currently authorized for the treatment of COVID-19 in patients with immunosuppressive disease or who are receiving immunosuppressive treatment. It is authorized for use in either the outpatient or the inpatient setting. This authorization is based on the totality of the scientific evidence available that suggests the potential benefits of CCP outweigh the potential risks when used for this indication. However, additional data from randomized controlled clinical trials are needed.

Plasma donations must be tested by registered or licensed blood establishments for high titers of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies as a manufacturing step to determine suitability before release, using one of the tests and qualifying results listed in the FDA EUA.

Clinical dosing may first consider starting with one high titer CCP unit (about 200mL), with administration of additional high titer CCP units based on the prescribing physician’s judgment and the patient's clinical response.

Tocilizumab is an interleukin (IL)-6 inhibitor that can be used in hospitalized patients with progressive severe or critical COVID-19 illness that demonstrate elevated markers of inflammation. For a more complete review of the evidence, benefits/harms and treatment criteria, refer to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) COVID-19 treatment guidelines below:

Baricitinib is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor that can be used in hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19 disease and elevated inflammatory markers, but not requiring mechanical ventilation. It can also be given in conjunction with remdesivir to hospitalized patients with severe disease who are unable to receive corticosteroids due to a contraindication. For a more complete review of the evidence, benefits/harms and treatment criteria, refer to the NIH and IDSA COVID-19 treatment guidelines below:

Other COVID-19 response guidance

For other health care related COVID-19 response guidance documents, including ethical frameworks for allocation of ventilators and cardiopulmonary resuscitation as well as previous operational guidance for therapeutics, please visit Crisis Standards of Care.

Thank you for your continued partnership. For health care questions, please contact the MDH provider hotline at 651-201-5414.

Updated Thursday, 30-Jun-2022 14:11:28 CDT