What you should know about COVID-19 pills to prevent hospital admissions

Vaccines and therapeutics are widely used. COVID-19 cases are increasing. As have more recent hospital admissions and deaths.

As we enter the third year of tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and the nation reaching a milestone of 1 million deaths, we can rest assured that nothing is certain.

But with the right preparation and the right precautions, healthcare professionals are cautiously optimistic that the country can prevent future surges in COVID-19 case numbers from translating into equally large increases in hospital admissions and deaths.

It comes down to some of the same advice health experts have been giving for years: make informed, data-backed personal decisions, get vaccinated and, when cases arise, mask and social distance.

The end of the Omicron surge gave us another tool to add to the toolbox: antiviral pills and other therapeutics that can help those most vulnerable to the disease get out of the hospital.

But there is still work to be done before the nation and state will be ready to handle the next COVID surge, which the White House warned earlier this month could infect as many as 100 million people this fall.

Here’s what you need to know.

What therapeutics are there for COVID-19?

This image, made available by Pfizer in October 2021, shows the company's COVID-19 Paxlovid pill.  U.S. health officials on Wednesday, December 22, 2021 approved the first anti-COVID-19 pill, a drug from Pfizer that Americans can take at home to stave off the worst effects of the virus.

Having tools and treatments in widespread use will be a key to determining whether an increase in cases will lead to a corresponding increase in hospital admissions and deaths.

Topping the list are vaccines and boosters, which have proven to be highly effective in preventing serious illness and death.

Fully vaccinated people were hospitalized at a rate of 5.4 per 100,000 fully vaccinated people, according to state DHS data updated April 14. Two out of 100,000 died. For those who were not fully vaccinated, the rate was 13.1 hospitalizations and 6.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

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