The following is a letter to the editor published in the April 16, 2022 edition of the Marin Independent Journal from Dr. Melanie Thompson, Chief Medical Officer at Marin Community Clinics.
In response to Richard Halstead’s April 7th article about new COVID-19 treatments – as a provider at Marin Community Clinics, I commend raising awareness about potentially life-saving pills (such as Paxlovid) that are currently available in Marin. I agree with Dr. Matt Willis that treating COVID-19 with pharmaceuticals is a viable path forward for managing the virus.
I recognize that COVID-19 is quickly evolving into another chronic disease manageable by primary care. Past mainstays of chronic disease prevention and management include checking blood sugars and blood pressures, and ordering screening tests as-needed. Now, just over a year after we began vaccinating in Marin, we have several options to treat COVID-19, and oral therapeutics are increasingly available in primary care offices such as ours.
I have experienced the pain of losing a patient, and I am grateful that new treatments are available to help minimize that risk when it comes to COVID-19. With better tools, new medications, and access to rapid testing – there is now further opportunity for care providers to prevent severe COVID-19 related infection, hospitalization and death. Evidence supports the use of these therapeutics. Paxlovid can reduce hospitalizations by about 89% and reduce viral load by 10 fold when taken immediately after diagnosis and within the first 5 days of the onset of COVID-19 symptoms.
With any new medication I am always weighing the risks and benefits of treatment options with my patients. I determine if patients are at risk, review any other medication interactions, and review kidney function. We are able to modify doses or provide alternative treatment options as needed. Oral therapeutics for COVID-19 aren’t unlike many other medications we prescribe on a daily basis. COVID-19 treatment options like Paxlovid need not sit on shelves when it can be saving lives.
– Melanie Thompson, DO, San Rafael