Treatment for COVID-19

Antiviral Pills

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Two pills have received emergency use authorization to treat the virus that causes COVID-19: Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s molnupiravir. 

To receive either pill, a medical provider must write you a prescription. Then a pharmacy can dispense, or provide, the pills. Use this medication locator to find a pharmacy or a Test to Treat site (which can provide the prescription and the medication at the same time). Many Community Health Centers also carry Paxlovid or molnupiravir.

Paxlovid

Paxlovid is for patients age 12 and older who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are at risk of developing severe COVID-19. Pills are taken over several days and must be started within 5 days of when symptoms started. You can read more in the Paxlovid fact sheet (Spanish) and Frequently Asked Question on the EUA of Paxlovid

Molnupiravir

Molnupiravir is for patients age 18 and older, because it can affect bone and cartilage in people still growing. Molnupiravir is for persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are at risk of developing severe COVID-19. Pills are taken over several days and must be started within 5 days of when symptoms started. It is not recommended for use during pregnancy or lactation. In addition, it is not recommended for men planning to start families. You can read more in the Fact Sheet for Patients, Parents and Caregivers (Spanish) and Frequently Asked Questions on the EUA of molnupiravir.

If you have COVID-19, ask your doctor about getting treatment with the antiviral pills. If you do not have a healthcare provider, you can call 2-1-1 to find one. You can also call a Monoclonal Antibody Regional Center at (619) 685-2500 to access Paxlovid or monoclonal antibody treatment.

Monoclonal Antibody Treatment

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If you have mild or moderate COVID-19, you may be able to receive outpatient monoclonal antibody treatment. It can reduce your symptoms and help you recover faster and avoid hospitalization.  

MARC Patient Flyer (Spanish)

The monoclonal antibody Bebtelovimab is offered at the MARC sites. Bebtelovimab has emergency use authorization to treat patients 12 years and older with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 AND who are at high risk for progression to severe disease, including hospitalization or death.

What is the treatment?

Monoclonal antibodies are proteins. For more than 30 years, doctors have used monoclonal antibodies to treat many kinds of diseases, such as cancer, immune disorders, inflammatory diseases, and infections. Certain monoclonal antibodies received emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat COVID-19. 

These antibodies are administered in an outpatient setting, through an IV (an infusion into your vein). The treatment can be given during a single visit.

How to get treatment?

Call your doctor first to find out if they offer monoclonal antibody treatment. Please do not go to the emergency department just to seek antiviral treatment, monoclonal antibody treatment, or COVID-19 testing. Our emergency departments should be reserved for people with emergency medical conditions.

If your doctor or health system does not offer treatment, the County and its partners have several Monoclonal Antibody Regional Centers (MARCs) where you can get treatment at no cost regardless of health insurance or immigration status. You may call the MARC sites at (619) 685-2500 to schedule an appointment. You must make an appointment by phone.

Who can get treatment?

An individual may be eligible for treatment with monoclonal antibodies who:

  • Tested positive for COVID-19, and
  • Has symptoms of COVID-19, but not for more than 7 days, and
  • Is at high risk for developing severe COVID-19. The following conditions place you at high risk:
    • Age 65 or older
    • Obesity or being overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater
    • Pregnancy
    • Diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or a condition that weakens the immune system
    • Heart disease, high blood pressure, or lung disease (like asthma)
    • Mental health conditions, such as depression or schizophrenia
    • Other medical conditions or factors, such as race or ethnicity, may place you at high risk for severe COVID-19

People with certain medical conditions should contact a healthcare provider right away after a positive COVID-19 test to see if they are eligible for treatment, even if their symptoms are mild.

People 12 years and older are treated at MARCs. Contact your child's pediatrician or provider if you are seeking treatment for a child under 12 years of age. 

You can also email COVIDtreatment@sdcounty.ca.gov with any questions.

Where are MARC locations?

There are MARC locations throughout San Diego County, but they may change over time. Appointments are required and can only be made by phone (619) 685-2500. Current sites include:

  • MARC at Vista Community Clinic in Vista (open Tuesday - Friday)
  • MARC at Clairemont Friendship Center in Clairmont (open Monday - Saturday)
  • MARC at San Ysidro Health in Chula Vista (open Wednesday - Sunday)
  • Family Health Centers of San Diego in Hillcrest (open Tuesday - Friday)

In addition to monoclonal antibodies, oral treatment Paxlovid now is available at all MARC locations.

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Prevention Therapy with Evusheld

Evusheld is a monoclonal antibody combination that can be given to people who are immunocompromised or who have a history of severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine. Evusheld must be given BEFORE a person has been exposed or infected with COVID-19. This is called pre-exposure prevention of COVID-19. Evusheld is given as an injection. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a therapeutics locator that identifies facilities that may have Evusheld. Evusheld is not available at the MARC locations.

More resources

Links to San Diego County webpages

Fact Sheets & Other Documents