UCSF doctor explains how Biden's 'test to treat' COVID initiative will work, why it's not simple

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Joe Biden unveiled plans to move America to a new stage of the coronavirus pandemic.

One key component of the plan is "test to treat."

"We're launching the 'test to treat' initiative so people can get tested at a pharmacy and if they prove positive they can get antiviral pills on the spot at no cost," the president said.

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

Now, the question is, how exactly will this work?

UCSF infectious diseases specialist, Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, joined ABC7 News on our program, "Getting Answers," to explain.

Dr. Chin-Hong says "the devil is in the details."

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Some of those details are still getting worked out, but what we do know, according to Dr. Chin-Hong, is that the "on the spot" treatment will be in the form of pills, such as Paxlovid.

"Paxlovid can cut down the hospitalization risk by as much as 89-percent in the highest risk people," Dr. Chin-Hong explained.

"You test on site. You get the pills for five days, three pills twice a day," he said.

We asked if this will be done at all pharmacies.

"So far they've named some pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid. We don't know if all pharmacies will have this capability," he said.

That's because, "it does require some choreography," Chin-Hong said.

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"You can't just have pills in the pharmacy stash and have a testing program. You have to coordinate it because, for example, you have to do patient education, you have to figure out what meds the patient is on... So it's not as easy as it seems."

You can watch the full 10-minute interview for more information, in the video at the top of this post.

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