Nearly 6 million Americans have taken Paxlovid for free, courtesy of the federal government. The Pfizer pill has helped prevent many people infected with covid-19 from being hospitalized or dying, and it may even reduce the risk of developing long covid. But the government plans to stop footing the bill within months, and millions of people who are at the highest risk of severe illness and are least able to afford the drug — the uninsured and seniors — may have to pay the full price.
And that means fewer people will get the potentially lifesaving treatments, experts said.
“I think the numbers will go way down,” said Jill Rosenthal, director of public health policy at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. A bill for several hundred dollars or more would lead many people to decide the medication isn’t worth the price, she said.
In response to the unprecedented public health crisis caused by covid, the federal government spent billions of dollars on developing new vaccines and treatments, to swift success: Less than a year after the pandemic was declared, medical workers got their first vaccines. But as many people have refused the shots and stopped wearing masks, the virus still rages and mutates. In 2022 alone, 250,000 Americans have died from covid, more than from strokes or diabetes.
But soon the Department of Health and Human Services will stop supplying covid treatments, and pha …