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Information for the public on who can get medications to treat COVID-19 and how to access them. Health care providers should refer to Therapeutic Options for COVID-19 Patients for more information on treatment options and prescribing.
On this page:
Who should get COVID-19 medication
Pregnant or breastfeeding
Cost and insurance
COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP)
People with risk factors for severe illness with COVID-19, such as older age or underlying health conditions, may benefit from COVID-19 antiviral medications. These treatments can help prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. Talk to your health care provider right away if you test positive and are at higher risk as treatments need to be started early to work best. Your health care provider will help determine which COVID-19 medication option is best for you.
COVID-19 medications are not a substitute for prevention. It is still recommended that everyone who is eligible get vaccinated and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Medications to Treat COVID-19 (PDF)
Handout with information on getting medications, test to treat options, and costs.
- Medications to Treat COVID-19 in Amharic (PDF)
- Medications to Treat COVID-19 in Arabic (PDF)
- Medications to Treat COVID-19 in Chinese (PDF)
- Medications to Treat COVID-19 in Hmong (PDF)
- Medications to Treat COVID-19 in French (PDF)
- Medications to Treat COVID-19 in Karen (PDF)
- Medications to Treat COVID-19 in Lao (PDF)
- Medications to Treat COVID-19 in Oromo (PDF)
- Medications to Treat COVID-19 in Russian (PDF)
- Medications to Treat COVID-19 in Somali (PDF)
- Medications to Treat COVID-19 in Spanish (PDF)
- Medications to Treat COVID-19 in Vietnamese (PDF)
Managing mild COVID-19 illness
If you have a fever, cough, or other symptoms, you might have COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and can recover at home. Your health care provider might recommend the following to relieve symptoms and support your body’s natural defenses:
- Taking medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever;
- Drinking water or receiving intravenous fluids to stay hydrated; and
- Getting plenty of rest to help the body fight the virus.
Learn more about what to do if you are positive at If You Are Sick or Test Positive.
When to seek emergency medical care
If your illness is getting worse or you notice any of these emergency warning signs, call your health care provider or emergency services right away. Emergency warning signs can include:
- Trouble breathing;
- Ongoing pain or pressure in the chest;
- New confusion or not being able to wake up;
- Bluish lips or face.
Who should get COVID-19 medication
Not everyone with COVID-19 needs to get treated. Antiviral treatments for COVID-19 are available for patients with mild to moderate symptoms, who are not in the hospital, who have had symptoms for seven days or less, and who are at high risk for severe illness.
People can be at high risk for many reasons. Some of the most common are being older than 50 years, obesity, having chronic medical conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease, being on treatment that suppresses your immune system, or pregnancy. To find a full list of factors that may put someone at high risk, visit CDC: People with Certain Medical Conditions.
If you are at high risk and develop symptoms that could be COVID-19, get tested right away and contact your health care provider. Don’t delay even if your symptoms are mild right now as treatment must be started early to work.
Oral antivirals are a pill taken by mouth for the treatment of COVID-19 in certain people. They are available by prescription only.
- FDA authorization for the oral antivirals Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir/ritonavir) and molnupiravir provide another tool for treating COVID-19 in patients at highest risk for severe illness.
- Treatment is no substitute for prevention, so getting vaccinated, getting your booster when eligible, masking when recommended, and taking other steps to protect yourself and others is still very important.
- Oral antivirals may not be right for everyone. Your health care provider can help determine what type of treatment is right for you by carefully reviewing your symptoms, test results, medical history, and current medications.
Where to access oral antiviral therapy in Minnesota
- Health systems and clinics
Talk to your health care provider or local clinic about COVID-19 medications. Many health systems and clinics across the state offer COVID-19 testing, medical assessment, and prescriptions for antiviral medications.
The federal Test-to-Treat program allows you to get tested (or have your self-test result or test result from another provider assessed), and if positive and treatments are appropriate for you, receive a prescription and have your prescription filled, all at one location. The ASPR: COVID-19 Test to Treat Locator is available to help find participating sites.
Minnesota has a free telehealth test-to-treat program where, if you live in Minnesota and test positive or have symptoms and have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you can connect with a physician virtually to see if you should get COVID-19 medications. If you qualify, the provider can issue that prescription to your local pharmacy, or in some areas of the state, the prescription medication can be delivered to your home. This service is available at no cost. Learn more at COVID-19 Telehealth Program.
- The Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Public Hotline can help you understand treatment options and direct you to resources. Call 1-833-431-2053, Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Paxlovid is an oral antiviral medication that works by blocking the virus from making copies of itself (replicating). It has been authorized for use in people ages 12 years and older with mild to moderate COVID-19, and at high risk for severe disease.
Paxlovid is to be taken within five days of symptoms starting, so it's important for people at high risk to connect with their health care provider right away.
Also be sure to inform your health care provider of your current prescriptions, supplements, and over-the-counter medicines, as Paxlovid may interact with certain medications. Do not start any new medication while on Paxlovid without informing your health care provider.
There have been some reports of patients who received Paxlovid having symptoms of COVID-19 come back after they finished treatment and recovered. This is called COVID-19 rebound and has occurred two to eight days after finishing treatment. These patients have tested positive again for COVID-19 after testing negative at the end of their treatment. Rebound has been observed not only with Paxlovid but also in patients receiving no treatment and in patients receiving other COVID-19 therapeutics. Recent studies suggest patients with rebound have mild symptoms and have an extremely low probability of developing severe COVID-19.
People who were treated with Paxlovid, have recovered, and then symptoms come back and they test positive should follow CDC: Isolation guidance again for how long to stay home and wear a mask. Let your health care provider know your symptoms have returned and let them know if you have any questions. At this time, you should not need to receive other COVID-19 medications.
Molnupiravir is an oral antiviral medication that works by blocking the virus from making copies of itself (replicating). It has been authorized for use in adults ages 18 and older with mild to moderate COVID-19, and at high risk for severe disease.
Molnupiravir is to be started within five days of symptoms starting, so it's important for people at high risk to connect with their health care provider right away.
This medication is not recommended for use while pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to your health care provider about other treatment options if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and people of childbearing age should talk to their provider about preventing pregnancy if using this treatment.
COVID-19 Medications: Oral Antivirals (PDF) Handout summary of when oral antivirals are used to treat COVID-19.
Remdesivir is an antiviral drug that works by blocking the virus from making copies of itself (replicating). Remdesivir is given through a needle in the vein (intravenously) over time, which is called an IV infusion.
Remdesivir is approved for outpatient treatment of adults and children who are at high risk for severe COVID-19. It should be started as soon as possible, with outpatient treatment beginning within seven days of symptoms developing. It’s important for people at high risk to connect with their health care provider right away if they have symptoms and test positive for COVID-19. The treatment is given as a series of three IV infusions, given once a day for three consecutive days.
Not all health care facilities can offer outpatient remdesivir treatment – patients should speak to their health care provider to see if it may be a potential treatment option.
Remdesivir is also used to treat patients who are hospitalized with more severe illness due to COVID-19. If you are hospitalized due to COVID-19, your health care providers will decide if remdesivir or other treatments are needed.
Antibodies are proteins that people's bodies make to fight viruses, such as the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibodies made in a laboratory act a lot like natural antibodies to limit the amount of virus in your body. They are called monoclonal antibodies. Antibodies are usually given into a vein by intravenous (IV) infusion or into the skin by subcutaneous (SQ) injection.
Variants and effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies
There are currently no monoclonal antibodies authorized for use for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 in the U.S. due to lack of effectiveness against currently circulating variants of SARS-CoV-2. Your health care provider can help determine if another type of COVID-19 medication is right for you.
As of Jan. 26, 2023, Evusheld is no longer authorized for use due to lack of effectiveness against currently circulating variants. FDA announces Evusheld is not currently authorized for emergency use in the U.S. For more information about what you can do to protect yourself if you have a weakened immune system, go to CDC: Information for Persons Who Are Immunocompromised Regarding Prevention and Treatment of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in the Context of Currently Circulating Omicron Lineages - United States, January 2023.
As of Nov. 30, 2022, bebtelovimab is no longer authorized for use because it is not effective against currently circulating variants.
As of March 30, 2022, sotrovimab is no longer authorized for use because it is not effective against currently circulating variants.
As of Jan. 24, 2022, bamlanivimab/etesevimab and casirivimab/imdevimab are no longer authorized for use because they are not effective against currently circulating variants.
Pregnant or breastfeeding
Pregnant people and their babies are at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19. People who are pregnant should talk with their doctor or other health care provider.
There are limited specific safety data on the use of antiviral treatment for COVID-19 in people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, although to date no safety concerns have been identified when these patients have taken antivirals. Patients should discuss potential treatment options and their risks and benefits with their providers. The use of antiviral treatments for COVID-19 in pregnant or breastfeeding patients is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM).
- Paxlovid may be considered for use in people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Molnupiravir is not recommended for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding due to potential concerns from animal studies on its effect on the developing baby. However, it may be used as a treatment option if no other therapies are available.
Remdesivir should be offered to pregnant or breastfeeding patients if it is indicated. Pregnant patients were not included in the clinical trials that evaluated the safety and efficacy of remdesivir; however, subsequent safety reports have found that it is well tolerated.
Cost and insurance
The federal government has purchased supplies of certain COVID-19 medications and is distributing them free of charge. These include:
This means patients do not have to pay for the medication itself, but there may be other fees associated with getting the treatment that a person or an insurance company would need to pay. For example, a clinic may charge for services associated with administering a treatment, or a pharmacy may charge insurance a dispensing fee for filling a prescription. Patients may have a copay for these services, depending on their insurance type. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist if you have any questions about costs associated with receiving a particular treatment.
There are other COVID-19 medications that are not being distributed for free by the government and are available commercially similar to other types of medication. These include:
- COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP)
This means there may be a cost for the medication itself, like other prescription medications you might get, as well as possible other fees associated with getting the treatment. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist if you have any questions about costs associated with receiving a particular treatment.
Health insurance may cover most of these costs. Patients who do not have insurance may be able to find low- or no-cost treatment in their communities at a U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) health center or community health center. Refer to HRSA Health Center COVID-19 Therapeutics Program Participants for a list of centers. Additional information on Minnesota community health centers/federally qualified health centers that provide services to medically underserved and disadvantaged populations, as well as a health center locator, are available at Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers: Find a Health Center.
COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP)
COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) is the liquid portion of blood from donors who have recovered from COVID-19. The blood from people who recover from COVID-19 contains substances called antibodies, which are capable of fighting the virus that causes COVID-19.
CCP may benefit people with compromised immune systems, in which the body is unable to make its own antibodies to the virus or the patient may be taking medications that weaken their immune system.
CCP is given through an IV. Your health care provider can let you know if CCP is an appropriate treatment for you.
For more information on COVID-19 testing, treatments, and vaccines, please visit COVID.gov, provided by the U.S. government.
- The COVID.gov website offers a helpline for more information, including help with navigating the federal locator website to find treatment locations. Note: this is not an MDH helpline.
- English or Spanish: 1-800-232-0233
- TTY (Text Telephone for hearing impaired): 888-720-7489