Medicines to treat COVID-19

COVID-19 antiviral medicines can help people who are at risk of becoming very sick with COVID-19. These medicines are free.

Who can get antivirals

People with a high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are eligible for treatment with COVID-19 antiviral medicines. These medicines reduce the amount of virus in your body, so you do not get as sick and you are less likely to go to hospital.

You can get free antiviral medicines if you:

  • have COVID-19 and symptoms or you are a Household Contact and have symptoms, and
  • became sick within the last 5 days, and
  • are eligible for the medicine.

Eligible people include:

  • Māori or Pacific people aged 50 or over
  • everyone aged 65 or over
  • anyone aged 50 or over with fewer than 2 COVID-19 vaccinations
  • anyone with a severely weakened immune system
  • anyone with Down syndrome
  • anyone with sickle cell disease
  • anyone who has previously been in critical high dependency hospital care from COVID-19
  • anyone with 3 or more high-risk medical conditions.

When to take COVID-19 antiviral medicines

COVID-19 antiviral medicines are available to treat eligible people with COVID-19 at home.

You must start taking COVID-19 medicines within the first 5 days of getting symptoms.

When taken early in your COVID-19 illness, antivirals can help you stay out of hospital.

These medicines are free for eligible people within 5 days of their symptoms starting.

How to get antivirals

If you test positive for COVID-19 or are a Household Contact

Talk to your doctor or nurse by phone to see if getting a prescription is right for you. They will help you work out if you are eligible for COVID-19 medicine. It will depend on several factors, including your age, ethnicity, other health conditions and vaccination status.

Many pharmacists will be able to supply COVID-19 antivirals without a prescription if you test positive or are a Household Contact. The pharmacist will check your eligibility.

Talk to your pharmacist or a registered nurse either immediately after you test positive or develop symptoms to see if the medicines are right for you.

If you are at risk of serious illness but do not have COVID-19 symptoms

If you are at risk of becoming very unwell with COVID-19 you may be able to get a prescription before you get COVID-19.

This means the pharmacist will have the prescription ready to use if you become unwell.

If you test positive, you can then arrange to have the medicine delivered by your friends, whānau or the pharmacy.

Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will confirm that it is still safe for you to take COVID-19 medicines.

You will not be able to get the medicine until you test positive for COVID-19.

Talk to your doctor or nurse to see if getting a prescription before you get unwell is right for you.

Find a pharmacy

Pharmacies supplying antivirals can be found on Healthpoint.

You will need a prescription at these pharmacies:

Pharmacies where you need a prescription | Healthpoint (external link)

You will not need a prescription at these pharmacies:

Pharmacies where you do not need a prescription | Healthpoint (external link)

How to get medicines if you are self-isolating

If you have COVID-19 you must self-isolate for 7 days and cannot leave your home.

If you are eligible for medicines, arrange to have them delivered by friends, whānau or by other means. Some pharmacies can deliver the medicine.

How to self-isolate

Medicines given in hospital

Some other medicines are available to treat COVID-19 but are only given in hospital.

Pharmac, the agency which decides what medicines to publicly fund in New Zealand, has more information on its website.

New Zealand’s COVID-19 treatments portfolio | Pharmac (external link)

COVID-19 preventative medicine

If you are severely immunocompromised you may be eligible for Evusheld.

Evusheld is a preventative medicine and can help reduce severe illness and hospitalisation from COVID-19.

It is available for severely immunocompromised people 12 years old and over. You can get the 2 injections of Evusheld before you get COVID-19, or at least 2 weeks after your recovery.

Talk to your doctor or health professional about whether this medicine is right for you.

People at higher risk from COVID-19

Eligibility criteria for Evusheld | Pharmac (external link)

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