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Antivirals to Treat COVID-19


Antiviral treatment (Paxlovid) is available for higher-risk individuals with COVID-19.

Know your risk and get assessed

Available treatments can help prevent serious illness if taken within 5 days of the start of symptoms.

Who should get this treatment?

Use Ontario’s antiviral screener tool to help determine if you should be assessed for treatment.

Paxlovid is given to people who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

Your risk of serious illness is determined based on a combination of your health, age, and vaccination status, based on an assessment from a health care provider.


You might be at higher risk if you are:

  • immunocompromised (have an immune system that is weakened by a health condition or medications);
  • 70 years of age and older;
  • 60 years of age and older with less than three vaccine doses;
  • 18 years of age or older with less than three vaccine doses and at least one risk condition.


Your primary care provider or another health care provider can tell you if you are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.


Treatments are not substitutes for vaccines. The best defence against serious COVID-19 disease is to get vaccinated.


Risk conditions include


  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • heart disease
  • hypertension
  • congestive heart failure
  • chronic lung disease (including cystic fibrosis)
  • moderate or severe kidney disease
  • intellectual or developmental disability
  • cerebral palsy
  • sickle cell disease
  • moderate or severe liver disease
  • pregnancy
How do I get assessed for treatment?


First, check your symptoms:


If you think you’re at higher risk of serious illness and have symptoms of COVID-19, you can:



If you don’t have timely access to a primary care provider or you live in a community without clinical assessment centres, testing centres may be able to connect you to treatment.



You should bring a list of:



  • your medications, including prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements
    any important medical conditions


You will need a positive COVID-19 test to take Paxlovid (PCR, rapid molecular test, or rapid antigen test). However, you do not need to have a positive test before reaching out. A health care professional will help you get a test if you need one.


Don’t delay or wait for your symptoms to become severe. Paxlovid must be taken within 5 days of the start of symptoms to be effective.

What is Paxlovid and how does it work?


Paxlovid is an antiviral medication that is taken orally (as pills) over five days.


It is a combination of two medications (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir) that work together:


  • Nirmatrelvir prevents the COVID-19 virus from replicating
  • Ritonavir helps keep nirmatrelvir from being broken down too quickly so that it can work longer


In a clinical trial, Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% in people at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.


Paxlovid can interfere with other commonly used medications. A health care provider, often with a pharmacist, might make changes to your other medications so that you can safely take Paxlovid.


Your health care provider might prescribe a different antiviral treatment if you cannot take Paxlovid.



Learn more:

Adapted from Antiviral treatment (Paxlovid) is available for higher-risk individuals with COVID-19 from the Ontario Ministry of Health,