Half Of Kiwis Eligible For Potentially Lifesaving COVID-19 Antiviral Treatments Know Little About Them – Survey
New research released today reveals that despite one million New Zealanders being eligible to treat their COVID-19 infection with antiviral medication*, over half (54%) know very little about the treatments.
The online study of more than 1,500 Kiwis, sponsored by Pfizer, was undertaken in partnership with New Zealand research firm Talbot Mills to understand New Zealanders’ awareness of antivirals.
Pfizer New Zealand Medical Director, Krishan Thiru said it is concerning that so many vulnerable Kiwis are largely unknowing of this potentially lifesaving treatment.
“The findings show that those most at risk are lacking overall understanding of antiviral treatments, their benefits and how to access them. Our concern is that this may not improve over summer unless we work together to ensure those who need it the most are not left behind.”
In the EPIC-HR trial, it was found that Pfizer’s antiviral treatment PAXLOVID reduced the risk of hospital admission or dying from COVID-19 by up to 86%, compared to placebo, in non-hospitalised, high-risk adult and unvaccinated patients treated within five days of symptom onset. [i]
When explained how PAXLOVID works and the potential benefits of the treatment, nearly two thirds (62%) of the general public aware of antivirals said having access to the medicine would make them less fearful of catching the virus. For those who are highest risk of death and hospitalisations from COVID-19, three in five (61%) said it made them less fearful.
The eligibility criteria for antivirals is aimed at New Zealanders who have the highest risk of death and hospitalisations from COVID-19. Research released last month by the Public Health Agency, found Māori and Pasifika, those with underlying health conditions, and older Kiwis are among those who have a much higher risk of dying from the virus.
The research found that over half (54%) of people who identified as Māori and Pasifika and were aged over 50 said their knowledge of antivirals was poor.
Thiru said it was important that disproportionately affected communities talk about the COVID-19 treatment options available so that their whānau are protected and feel empowered to learn more and seek advice from a health professional.
“While vaccination remains the most effective way to help prevent COVID-19, antiviral treatments provide a strong second line of defence for those most at risk,” Thiru said.
“Eligible New Zealanders need to act fast after testing positive for COVID-19, calling their doctor or pharmacist straight away.”
“PAXLOVID is fully funded and now available for eligible New Zealanders at over 400 pharmacy locations nationwide, with free delivery offered to patients’ homes if required. This means more Kiwis will be able to access the medication either through their healthcare professional or from a pharmacy, helping to reduce the strain on our health system,” he said.
People who think they may be eligible for PAXLOVID are encouraged to talk to their pharmacist or general practitioner (GP) about their eligibility for antiviral medication. Eligibility will depend on several factors, including age, ethnicity, other health conditions and vaccination status.