Following the advice of Health Canada, the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Science Advisory Table, antiviral and other treatments are now available for free by prescription to people who are eligible and who are at higher risk of progressing to severe disease requiring hospitalization.
To be considered for antviral treatment, you must have tested positive for COVID-19 (by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or rapid antigen test), and a health care provider must assess you to determine if treatment is right for you, which includes whether or not you are at higher risk of developing severe symptoms.
You may be at higher risk if you are:
- over 18 years old and immunocompromised (have an immune system that is weakened by a health condition or medications)
- over 70 years old
- over 60 years old with fewer than three vaccine doses
- over 18 years old with fewer than three vaccine doses and at least one of the following risk conditions:
- heart disease, hypertension, congestive heart failure
- chronic respiratory disease (including cystic fibrosis)
- cerebral palsy
- intellectual or developmental disabilities
- sickle cell disease
- moderate or severe kidney disease
- moderate or severe liver disease
- pregnant and unvaccinated (zero doses)
A health care provider may determine treatment is right for you even if you do not belong to one of the groups above based on your individual circumstances.
If you are high-risk and do not have a primary care provider or are having difficulty seeing your primary care provider, call Health Connect Ontario at 811 or 1-866-797-0007 (toll-free TTY) for more information on antiviral treatments, assistance or eligibility for virtual care options.
The province is working with health care providers to prioritize higher-risk individuals who are Indigenous, Black and members of other racialized communities for treatment, who may be at increased risk of severe disease due to increased barriers to health care and other social and health related factors.
Available antiviral treatments
Paxlovid is an antiviral medication that can be taken by mouth at home and must be taken within five days of the start of symptoms.
Remdesivir is an antiviral medication that must be taken intravenously (IV) at a designated clinic. Remdesivir must be taken within seven days of the start of symptoms.
Other treatments may be available to you depending on your health status.
Antiviral treatments are not a replacement for vaccination or taking other recommended precautions. Learn where to get vaccinated and book an appointment today.
How to get treatment
Treatment must be started within five to seven days (depending on the treatment) of when your symptoms began.
If you have symptoms (even if mild) and are at higher risk of severe COVID-19, seek testing and care immediately by either:
- visiting a clinical assessment centre (where you can get tested, assessed, and provided treatment or a prescription)
- contacting a primary care provider (for example, your family doctor)
Use a rapid antigen test if you have one. However, as rapid antigen tests may be negative in the early stage of infection, seek PCR testing and assessment immediately if the test is negative or if you don’t have a rapid antigen test.
If you are not able to visit a clinical assessment centre, you can get a PCR test at any provincial testing location, but will also need an assessment from a health care provider to get treatment. Some testing centres may be able connect you to a health care provider.
Health Connect Ontario is a free, secure and confidential service people can call or access online 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get health advice from a registered nurse or find health services or information.
We are enhancing and expanding where Ontarians can access antivirals across the province. As a result, medication will be available through clinical assessment centres, hospitals, or may be picked up at a participating pharmacy with a prescription.
The list of pharmacy locations that can fill your prescription is available by clicking the link below.
If you don’t have symptoms but are at higher risk
If you do not have symptoms but are at higher risk of severe COVID-19, talk to your primary care provider about getting pre-assessed for treatment in case you get sick with COVID-19.
Before you get treatment
You must bring a list of any medications (including any natural health products or vitamins) you are taking and advise your health care provider, or the person at the clinical assessment centre, about any important medical conditions.
A health care provider, often with a pharmacist, will decide if any changes to your medications are necessary before safely taking Paxlovid or another treatment.
Information for health care providers
Clinical guidance on use and highest priority populations for Paxlovid and other treatments is available from the Science Advisory Table. The Science Advisory Table’s recommendations identify populations who would get the most benefit and can be used by health care providers, along with their clinical judgement, to make decisions on when to prescribe antivirals.
Additional resources are available from Ontario Health.
All patients who are at higher risk of severe outcomes based on clinical assessment, have tested positive and do not have conditions that prevent them from taking the medication are eligible for publicly funded antivirals based on clinician judgement.
Evusheld is a single dose of antibodies (two injections at the same time) that provides protection for immunocompromised individuals from COVID-19 for six months.
Evusheld is only authorized for patients who:
- are not positive for COVID-19 at the time of treatment
- are 12 and older
- have certain health conditions that make them higher risk and need additional protection, including:
- solid organ transplant recipients
- stem cell transplant recipients
- CAR-T therapy recipients
- other hematologic cancer patients undergoing treatment
If you have one of these health conditions, contact your treating specialist or call 811 to see if Evusheld is right for you.