(ECNS) -- The oral COVID-19 drug Paxlovid is now available at some community health service centers in Beijing, but only to eligible patients under the purchase limit. Patients need to pay at least 1,890 yuan (about $271) for the drug, which is already covered by medical insurance.
A patient diagnosed by hospitals above secondary level with COVID-19 within five days can buy Paxlovid, said a staff member from a community health service center in Fengtai District.
"All 65-year-old COVID-19 patients and above, who suffer from underlying diseases, immune deficiency, haven’t been vaccinated yet or are obese, can come to the community health service center with their CT and clear diagnosis results and medical records," said the staff member.
"If patients can't come in person, we can make video calls to check their status. We can talk with them, or check their health state via video even though they can’t talk,” the staff member said, adding that Paxlovid is in the warehouse now, but its price is 2,300 yuan after reimbursement from medical insurance.
A staff member from a community health service center in Haidian District said that Paxlovid will only be prescribed to the critically ill in the district who have tested positive within five days, or their on-the-spot antigen tests are positive on the day of diagnosis.
If the elderly are confined to bed, families can take their medical records and ID cards to general practitioners. Doctors will provide a door-to-door antigen test according to the patient’s condition and prescribe the drug if the antigen result is positive on the same day.
According to the staff member, the payment price of the drug included in the medical insurance has dropped to 1,890 yuan from 2,300 yuan, and some people can reimburse the medical expenses in full or 90 percent.
"The drug has arrived, but each patient is limited to one box,” said the staff member.
A staff member from a community health service center in Xicheng District said the drug has not arrived at the health center yet and it is not clear when the drug will be available.
It is possible that the first batch will be five boxes, said the staff member. “It is too few, but we can’t change it.”
Paxlovid is now popular among drug purchasing agents due to its tight supply. The U.S. version of Paxlovid is sold at different prices, ranging from 10,000 yuan to only 2,000 yuan.
A drug purchasing agent from Hong Kong said the U.S. version of Paxlovid costs 10,000 yuan a box, and can be mailed to the Chinese mainland within two to three days, but the Indian Paxlovid must wait until Jan. 3, 2023.