Paxlovid consists of two medications that work in the body to kill the COVID-19 virus. It is an oral medication that is used to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to make Paxlovid available. Paxlovid is currently approved for the treatment of COVID-19 in adults and children. Children who are over the age of 12 years old and weigh greater than 88 pounds can take the medication. Patients must have mild-to-moderate COVID-19 and be at high risk of severe COVID-19. Severe COVID-19 can cause hospitalization or death.

How does Paxlovid work?

Paxlovid is a three-pill dose, consisting of two medications packaged together. When taking this three-dose pill, two of those pills will be 150 mg nirmatrelvir tablets. Nirmatrelvir prevents the COVID-19 virus from making more virus in the body. The third pill is a 100 mg ritonavir tablet. This tablet is used to keep the nirmatrelvir in your body for longer periods of time so that it can work best. Allowing this medication to work in your body longer will allow your body to fight off the infection longer. Paxlovid doses are taken every 12 hours for 5 days.

Who should take Paxlovid?

Paxlovid should be given within five days of developing COVID-19 symptoms. Paxlovid can be used by any adult or child over 12 years old weighing over 88 pounds. To be able to take this medication, you must have a recent positive COVID-19 test result and be at a higher risk for developing severe COVID-19.

Who may not be eligible for Paxlovid?

Some patients may not be able to take this medication. Patients that have a history of an allergic response to nirmatrelvir, ritonavir, or any other component of the product should not take this medication. Also, there are certain medications that may cause interactions with Paxlovid, so it is important to reach out to your doctor before starting this medication.

What are the common side effects?

The most common side effects are altered or impaired sense of taste, diarrhea, increased blood pressure, muscle pain, nausea, and abdominal pain.

How much would this medication cost?

Currently, the United States government is offering Paxlovid and other COVID-19 treatments at no cost.

Is Paxlovid right for me?

If recently tested positive for COVID-19, talk to your doctor to find out if Paxlovid is a good option for you.

Written by:

Alexis Saladino

Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate 2025

Philadelphia College of Pharmacy

St. Joseph’s University


1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ASPR. Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response.

2. FDA. ​​Frequently Asked Questions on the Emergency Use Authorization for Paxlovid for Treatment of COVID-19. Accessed February 13th, 2023.

3. Katella, K. 13 Things To Know About Paxlovid, the Latest COVID-19 Pill. Yale Medicine. Published February 3rd, 2023. Accessed February 13th, 2023.

4. Pfizer. Paxlovid. Accessed February 13th, 2023.