Pharmacy-based clinics will be central players in the new National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.

The initiative was announced by President Joe Biden in his State of the Union address, and Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, recently provided more information about it.

Mr. Zients quoted the president as saying the nation has "reached a new moment in the fight against COVID-19."

The plan has four key goals:

• Protect against and treat COVID.
• Prepare for any new variants.
• Prevent economic and school shutdowns.
• Vaccinate the world and save lives.

"Two years ago, we had limited tools to protect ourselves: masks, isolation, and social distancing. But all of that's changed," Mr. Zients pointed out. "Today, we have the tools we need to protect each other and treat COVID-19. They're widely available for the American people. And with Congress's help, the president's plan will make sure that's always the case."

He added that vaccines and boosters provide strong protection against severe illness and hospitalization, and that 216 million Americans are fully vaccinated, with two out of three eligible adults having received booster shots.

Mr. Zients added that, when a COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for children under the age of 5 years, "we'll be ready with plenty of vaccines and prepared to help parents vaccinate their youngest kids at thousands of trusted and convenient locations across the country."

The current focus, however, is on distributing treatments for COVID-19. "In addition to vaccines and boosters, we have filled our nation's medicine cabinet with effective treatments and therapeutics: monoclonal antibodies, antiviral pills, and preventive therapies for our most vulnerable," he noted. "These treatments work to prevent the worst outcomes of COVID-19. And we have more treatments available for the American people than ever before—millions of treatments each month."

Mr. Zients especially cited the Pfizer pill, saying it "is a gamechanger—90 percent effective at keeping people out of the hospital. We collaborated with Pfizer to accelerate development of the pill. And we've ordered 20 million courses."

In December, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for Pfizer's Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir tablets, copackaged for oral use) for the treatment of mild-to-moderate coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in adults and pediatric patients aged 12 years and older weighing at least 40 kilograms, or about 88 pounds.

The new Test-to-Treat initiative, which was discussed at the briefing, is where pharmacy clinics play a major role in providing Americans access to testing and treatment for free, all in one stop.

Mr. Zients advised that hundreds of one-stop sites will open across the country this month, located at local pharmacy clinics, community health centers, long-term care facilities, and veterans' health centers.

The Monday after the briefing, media reports said that more than 1,000 in-pharmacy clinics across the U.S. had registered to participate in the initiative and to order shipments of the COVID-19 antiviral medications.

Mr. Zients said a website will soon be available "that will be a go-to place where you can find vaccines and masks at easy and convenient locations, and where you can find the latest information on COVID-19 in your community."

He also said local pharmacies—as well as grocery stores and community health centers—will continue to distribute N95 masks.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.

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