DENVER (KDVR) — The White House announced Thursday morning that President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Biden is taking Paxlovid, an antiviral therapy given to patients with COVID-19.  

What is Paxlovid?

The United States Food and Drug Administration says Paxlovid is a medicine used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and children over 12 years old weighing at least 88 pounds. It is used for people who test positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.

The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer antiviral pill on Dec. 22, 2021. In July, the FDA announced a new policy that allows pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid for COVID-19 treatment.

Dr. Scott Joy, Chief Medical Officer for HealthONE Physician Services has been prescribing it to patients in Colorado.

“Recently, in the metro Denver area, the supply in community pharmacies has been very good,” Joy said. “I have not had a lot of patients call me back with significant side effects and, luckily, I’ve not had any patients who’ve taken it go to the emergency room or be hospitalized.”

How is Paxlovid used to treat COVID-19?

The FDA said Paxlovid is given twice daily for five days with three pills taken each time. The three-pill dose is two tablets of nirmatrelvir and one tablet of ritonavir.

According to the FDA, the nirmatrelvir tablets inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 protein to stop the virus from replicating, and the ritonavir tablet slows down the nirmatrelvir tablets’ breakdown to help it stay in the body for a longer period at higher concentrations, the FDA said.

During a trial, the FDA said Paxlovid significantly reduced the proportion of people with COVID-related hospitalization or death from any cause by 88% compared to placebo among patients treated within five days of symptom onset and who did not receive COVID-19 therapeutic monoclonal antibody treatment.

Joy said it’s important to have conversations with your doctor or a pharmacist prescribing Paxlovid about your health conditions and the medications you are taking.

“For people with decreased kidney function, it’s not that it cannot be used, that dose just needs to be adjusted,” Joy said. “And the most common medications that we see that we need to be a little cautious with are cholesterol-lowering medicines and medicines called alpha-blockers that are often used for prostate enlargement or urinary issues.”

Jean-Pierre said in a statement that Biden will isolate at the White House, consistent with CDC guidelines.