What's 'test to treat,' a key tenet of the White House's new COVID-19 strategy?

Joe Biden.
(Image credit: Saul Loeb - Pool/Getty Images)

To further combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the White House on Wednesday unveiled a new roadmap focused on moving the nation to a new stage of the pandemic in which the virus does not upend Americans' lives, CNN reports.

The plan, detailed in a 96-page report, is centered around four main goals, NPR writes: "protect against and treat COVID-19, prepare for new variants, prevent business and school shutdowns," and "help vaccinate the rest [of the] world and save lives."

In order to better achieve at least that first goal, the administration has announced a new initiative called "Test to Treat," where Americans can, at select locales, immediately receive free COVID-19 antiviral pills should they test positive for the virus, CNN notes. President Biden first unveiled the initiative during his Tuesday night State of the Union address.

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The antiviral treatments "dramatically reduce the chances that someone with COVID will become severely ill," Axios explains.

According to White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients, hundreds of the one-stop "Test to Treat" sites will be opening this month at "pharmacy-based clinics, community health centers, long-term care facilities, and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities across the country," CNN writes.

Jeanne Marrazzo, an infectious diseases physician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, praised the new program as a potential "game-changer."

"If we could really roll it out, make it accessible and affordable, and use it intelligently, you could really interrupt the course of disease, especially in those who are immunocompromised and other vulnerable populations," Marrazzo told The Washington Post.

Added Deputy COVID Coordinator Natalie Quillian to NPR: "You can go in to a pharmacy clinic like CVS MinuteClinic, like a Walgreens clinic or others, and you can get your test, wait for your results, if you're positive — get the pills — if that's the right treatment for you."

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