New York City has begun offering free, same day at-home delivery of COVID-19 antiviral pills to eligible residents although supplies remain limited.
The program was announced by Mayor Eric Adams at a press conference Sunday at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx.
New Yorkers will be considered eligible if they test positive for the virus and have mild to moderate symptoms. They must also receive a prescription from a doctor.
"The city will also offer at-home delivery of COVID antiviral pills to eligible New Yorkers who need them, and we're going to do it with the magic New York word -- we're going to do it for free. For free," Adams said. "We want to make sure no one with COVID has to move throughout the city, especially for those who are immunocompromised or our elderly. We want to bring it to you."
Residents will be able to receive either Paxlovid, which was developed by Pfizer, and molnupiravir, which is produced by Merck.
Both treatments have been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Paxlovid for those aged 12 and older and molnupiravir for those aged 18 and older.
"Oral antiviral pills … taken for five days helps stop the virus from reproducing, which reduces the amount of virus in the body, and prevents symptoms from getting worse," New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said at the press conference.
Both have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death for high-risk patients, but the FDA has recommended molnupiravir only when other treatments are "not accessible or clinically appropriate."
The drugs will be delivered through Alto Pharmacy, a telehealth pharmacy that has partnered with the city's health department.
To receive the pills, New Yorkers can either contact their doctor or call (212) COVID19.
Despite the mayor's plan to make the drugs -- once hailed as game-changers -- more available to New Yorkers, supplies are scarce.
There are 1,000 courses of Paxlovid and about 11,000 of molnupiravir currently available in New York City, according to federal data.
It's unclear how many residents have requested the pills.
Adams also announced at the press conference that 75% of all New York City residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including 85% of adults and 50% of children aged 5 and older.
Additionally, the average number of COVID cases is down 80% city-wide.
"We are leading the country and we have to really say thank you to New Yorkers and our hospital administrators and staff," Adams said.