OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A summer surge of COVID-19 is hitting the Sooner State, but drugs like Paxlovid are making it less daunting than surges in the past.

This week, the FDA cleared the way for pharmacists to prescribe the drug, making it easier than ever to get.

Oklahoma physicians are facing yet another COVID-19 surge but unlike years past, this time they have another tool in their toolbox.

“These drugs are actually very effective,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, with OU Health, referencing Paxlovid. “It was 85% effective in treating hospitalization and death. We didn’t have that a year ago, so that makes it easier to take care of these patients.”

He says it’s now the most common outpatient treatment his hospital system is using for COVID-19 in high-risk patients.

“A young person who has no underlying risk factors, is otherwise healthy, particularly if they’re vaccinated, the risk of complications from COVID-19 are quite small,” Bratzler said. “So we don’t usually treat those people.”

While it’s a game changer in preventing hospitalization and death for those at risk, know there’s a chance of what’s being called the “Paxlovid rebound,” something that’s impacted Dr. Anthony Fauci as well as two of Bratzler’s patients.

“They both said I felt better really quick when I started taking Paxlovid and then 7-8 days later, after they were already done with the course of Paxlovid, they started having symptoms again and tested positive again,” said Bratzler. 

Thankfully, Bratzler says most rebound symptoms are quite mild.

“It’s unclear exactly what happens,” Bratzler said. “It can be, perhaps in some people, that five days of treatment isn’t quite enough to get rid of the virus.”

A quick search online shows most OKC-metro Walmart pharmacies have Paxlovid in stock.

It does have interactions with quite a few drugs, though, so be sure to discuss everything you’re taking with your doctor or pharmacist.