Note: HN Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Matt Strauss sent the following letter to Christine Elliot, Minister of Health, and shared it with The Press for publication. Following this, it was announced that Paxlovid access was being expanded in Canada, but it was unknown as of press time if this expansion would include Haldimand-Norfolk.
Dear Minister Elliot,
I spoke with the member of Provincial Parliament for Haldimand-Norfolk, Mr. Toby Barrett, regarding availability of Paxlovid. Upon his advice, as well as the unanimous support of our Board of Health, I am writing to you to request local access.
As you are aware, a recent randomized placebo-control trial showed the medicine to prevent 100% of deaths if given to high-risk COVID patients within 5 days of symptom onset. The medicine prevented 88% of hospitalizations in that cohort. Therefore, in addition to directly saving lives, quick access to this medicine could significantly reduce hospital system strain.
Currently, I understand the provincial government is in possession of 40,000 courses of this medicine but none of these are available locally in Haldimand-Norfolk. Residents could access this medication through COVID Assessment Centres at St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener or St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton. However, I do not believe it is reasonable to ask an elderly person with multiple other medical problems to drive more than one hour from our community to one of these centres while suffering from COVID.
As far as I can tell, there is no way for a nursing home resident to access this medication in our community at this time. Nursing home residents in our community have died of COVID-19 without receiving this medication over the last three weeks.
I have spoken with several family physicians in our area about this. They are perfectly well educated on how and when to use the medicine. I have spoken with community pharmacists who are ready and able to consult upon its use and dispense it.
We do not need education or administrative support. We just need a box of this medicine. Please.
Dr. Matthew Strauss MD, FRCPC