U.S. President Joe Biden announced the launch of a new initiative called the "Test to Treat" program to enable Americans to undergo COVID-19 testing at a pharmacy and receive free oral therapeutics immediately.
"We're launching the "Test to Treat" initiative so people can get tested at a pharmacy, and if they're positive, receive antiviral pills on the spot, at no cost," Biden said Tuesday during the State of the Union speech.
Currently, oral COVID-19 pills molnupiravir and Paxlovid, developed by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Merck (NYSE:MRK)/ Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, respectively, have been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for at-home use.
Paxlovid has indicated 89% efficacy, and molnupiravir has shown about 30% efficacy in reducing the risk of hospitalization or death in late-stage trials involving patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19.
Biden said Pfizer (PFE) would deliver 1 million pills in March and more than double that in April.
In addition, the Biden administration is set to announce a national preparedness plan for COVID-19 on Wednesday, outlining how "to move forward safely and get back to our more normal routines," according to a statement from the White House.
During the State of the Union speech, Biden said that the U.S. is ready to deploy new vaccines within 100 days rather than in months or years.