Covid-19 Information update 2022

May 2022 Update

Effective anticovid medication for over 65 yo

As  of  1st May, all general practitioners are now able to issue heavily subsidised PBS prescriptions  for one of two effective anti Covid medications for  many patients in our age group (over 65 years) who have mildly to moderately symptomatic and medically confirmed Covid infection.   To be eligible we must currently also  have either ONE  (75yo +)  or TWO (65-74 yo). comorbidities from a specified  list.

Specified Comorbidities include:

  • Less than 2 Covid Vaccine doses
  • Diabetes requiring medication,
  • Heart Failure,
  • Lung problems including  emphysema or moderate asthma (daily medication)
  • Body mass index elevated >30 – To calculate yours   Click Here
  • Kidney function impaired (eGFR <60)
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Lives in residential aged care or residential disability care
  • Stroke or Dementia
  • Depressed immunity from recent  therapies  for cancer or severe arthritis

These two medications are Paxlovid (made by Pfizer)  (Reported effectivess  ~88%, available from 1 May) and Lagevrio (=Molnupiravir) (Reported effectivess  ~50%, available from 1 March) , each taken twice daily for 5 days.  While the full price  (to the PBS scheme) of both of these prescriptions is over $1100 the cost for us as patients is capped at ~$40.00 without and ~$10 with a concession card.

The reason that these prescripions have been made preferentially available for the specified groups  is that, even  with full vaccination, their  risk of progressing to severe illness after developing mild initial symptoms remains sigificantly higher than for other people.  These  medications are proven to reduce  the chance of progressing to severe illness by up to 88%.  In order to provide full benefit they need to commence early, preferably within 3 days and always within the five days after symptoms commence.  They do not work at all once people are so sick that they need to be in hospital

This development means that from now on  if we think that we may have one or more of the specified comorbidities and develop both Covid symptoms and a self-administered  positive Covid test,  then  we should without delay :

  1. Get a medically confirmed PCR  or supervised RAT test  –  eg at Repatriation Hospital clinic, which often has only  a 15 minute wait 9 am to 5 pm 7 days per week.
  2.  Contact our own GP for a telemedicine consultation, in order to discuss whether we qualify for an electronic Paxlovid or Lagevrio  prescription delivered by smartphone or email. Paxlovid is contraindicated for a few people and may need  avoidance or dose modification of other listed medications on advice from our Dr :  (Medications List    HERE  )  Especially In people with multiple  other medications the slightly less effective Lagevrio  may be preferable because of its lesser drug interactions.  This choice should be discussed with our own GP and or pharmacist in the context of our individual circumstances,  preferably at a routine visit in advance of actually catching Covid.

For those seeking further scientific information, an authoritative  US  review  of these medications is available HERE

April 2022 update

Vaccination “Winter Jab (#4) for over 65 yos

All Victorians over 65yo are encouraged to receive a fourth “Winter Booster” any time from 4 months after we received our 3rd dose.  This  has been recommended because in our age group the substantial protection against severe illness that is provided by vaccines does not last as long as in younger people.

Either Pfizer or Moderna Covid vaccines may be chosen by all of us.  They are both very similar in effectiveness (high) and side effects (low)

Flu vaccination with the latest quadrivalent vaccine is also recommended before winter.

Most sites prefer that  flu and Covid boosters either are given on the same day (opposite arms) or at least one or two weeks apart.  It is worth checking the local policy in advance.